NEW YORK (Jan. 7)
At least one Swiss bank was involved in transferring money for high-ranking Nazi officials from Germany to Switzerland at the end of World War II, according to a document found in the Swiss Federal Archives.
Some of the money allegedly transferred by the director of the Swiss Agricultural Bank on behalf of “high ranking members of the Nazi regime” originally belonged to French people “who doubtless died in concentration camps or were otherwise murdered,” the document said.
The document — a letter written by a Swiss army officer at the end of the war — was released Tuesday by U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), who has been one of Switzerland’s harshest critics.
The letter said that the amount being transferred was about “11 million” – – presumably Swiss francs, an amount worth about $74 million today.
“If this document is true,” D’Amato said, “it is a chilling indictment of this particular Swiss banker and raises serious questions concerning the activities of other Swiss bankers from this period.”
The letter was written Feb. 16, 1945, by a general staff officer in the Swiss Army Command to the director of the Swiss Federal Finance Administration.
If true, the letter suggests that both the Swiss army and the country’s financial authorities were aware of at least one instance of “flight capital” moving from Germany to Switzerland to help Nazi officials who foresaw the defeat of Hitler’s forces.
D’Amato forwarded the letter to Jean-Francois Bergier, chairman of an international panel of historians that was created by Switzerland in December 1996 to study the extent of the country’s financial dealings with the Nazis.
A spokesman for the commission said, “We will, of course, investigate this case carefully.”