BERN, Nov. 29 (JTA) — Switzerland helped the Nazis achieve their goals, according to an international panel of historians probing the Alpine nation’s wartime past.
A spokesman for the panel, known as the Bergier Commission, told JTA on Monday that this is one of the major conclusions of its report, due to be published Dec. 10.
A spokeswoman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry denied that the government was angered by the report, which focuses on Switzerland’s treatment of Jewish refugees during World War II.
The commission provided the government with a copy of the report two weeks ago to give it time to plan a response to the panel’s findings.
But since that time, some the report’s conclusions have been leaked to the press — and sources within the commission are accusing the government of leaking the information in order to discredit the group’s findings.
In May 1998, the Bergier Commission issued a report concluding that during the war, officials of the Swiss central bank knew they were buying looted gold from Nazi Germany, but turned a blind eye and went ahead with “business as usual.”
Formally known as the Independent Commission of Experts, the panel headed by historian Jean-Francois Bergier was created by Switzerland in December 1996 to study the nation’s wartime past.
With its focus now on the refugee issue, the panel is probing an area where Switzerland has long been felt to have a mixed record.
According to previous estimates, the country expelled more than 30,000 Jews during the war, most of whom died.
At the same time, however, Switzerland provided haven to some 25,000 Jewish refugees who survived the war together with Switzerland’s 20,000 Jewish citizens.
By comparison, the United States admitted 21,000 Jewish refugees during the war. Canada admitted about 9,000.