LOS ANGELES (Jul. 24)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is investigating the possibility that some top-ranking Nazis were included in a list of dormant Swiss bank accounts. The list of some 2,000 names was released Wednesday by the Swiss Bankers Association to aid the search for assets deposited during the Hitler era by European Jews.
Earlier this year, the Wiesenthal Center submitted to Swiss authorities the names of 334 leading German government and SS officials, bankers, industrialists and art dealers who had the power and wealth to deposit substantial amounts into Swiss banks during World War II.
Six names on that list closely resemble names on the list of dormant accounts, according to the Wiesenthal Center.
Following are the six names of top Nazis, followed in parentheses by the apparently corresponding names on the Swiss bankers’ list and the home cities or countries of the depositors.
Willy Bauer (Willi Bauer, Thueringen, Germany): Bauer was an alias used by Anton Burger, an aide to Adolf Eichmann and deputy commandant of the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Elisabeth Eder (Elise Eder, Austria): wife of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, a major administrator of the Final Solution, who was executed at Nuremberg.
Herman Esser (Herman Eser, Munich): vice president of the Reichstag.
Hermann Schmitz (H. Schmitz, Munich): chairman of the I.G. Farben board of directors.
The Swiss bankers’ list also contained names of persons holding power of attorney for dormant accounts, including:
Heinrich Hoffman (Heinrich Hofman): Hitler’s photographer, confidant and major Nazi profiteer.
Karl Jaeger (same spelling): top exterminator of Lithuanian Jewry.
In a letter to the Swiss Bankers Association, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, who head the Wiesenthal Center, requested urgent assistance in verifying the identity of the six account holders.
In a related action, attorneys for the Wiesenthal Center have filed a class-action suit in New York federal court, asking that all Nazi assets found in Swiss banks be used to help Holocaust survivors.
Meanwhile, a Tel Aviv accounting agency was flooded with calls after the list of dormant Swiss bank accounts was published Thursday in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
The firm Kost, Levary and Forer was listed as the contact for the claims requests in Israel.
Other Israeli newspapers were expected to publish the list later in the week.