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Wiesenthal Center pushes for accounting of Nazi SS accounts

ZURICH, March 10 (JTA) — Swiss officials are saying they will investigate allegations that Nazi SS accounts worth as much as $700,000 were transferred to Swiss banks during the war. The vow came after the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center publicized a wartime document about the money. “This is SS money. SS money is all blood money,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s dean. “It should go to the victims.” In a letter to Thomas Borer, the head of a Swiss task force dealing with Holocaust-era issues, Hier wrote that a Holocaust research group recently found among wartime documents at the U.S. National Archives a reference to possible SS transfers of funds to Swiss accounts. Hier forwarded one document from the U.S. Army’s postwar interrorgation of Walter Schellenberg, the head of German intelligence during the war. In the document, Schellenberg gives an accounting of how he ordered Dutch bonds sent “to a neutral account in Switzerland” in late 1944. Hier described the document as the first evidence pointing to an identifiable account held by a top Nazi. He added that it was possible there were hundreds more of these accounts, some of which may still lie dormant in Swiss banks. “We would like to know what happened to those funds,” Hier wrote to Borer. In a related development, the Zurich-based newspaper Jewish Weekly of Switzerland reported this week that Schellenberg was given haven in Switzerland in 1951 by Lt. Col. Roger Masson, Switzerland’s wartime head of military intelligence. The Swiss Defense Ministry subsequently confirmed the report, but said Masson was no longer a member of the Swiss army at the time. Prior to his visit to Switzerland, Schellenberg had been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Nuremberg War Tribunal. The paper questioned why Masson was not tried for helping Schellenberg, who was at the time on a police list of Nazi war criminals not allowed to enter Switzerland.