Rolf Bloch, who negotiated with Switzerland for survivor compensation, dies


(JTA) — Rolf Bloch, a former leader of Swiss Jews and a chocolate factory owner, died at the age of 84.

Bloch, who was a key figure during negotiations in the 1990s for compensation from the Swiss government for Holocaust assets, died this week and will be commemorated during a memorial service in Bern on Sunday, the Tachles Swiss Jewish weekly reported Wednesday.

A former president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, Bloch took over his family chocolate business, Camille Bloch, in 1970. From 1988 to 1992, the Bernese businessman was on the board of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities. He served as the federation’s president from 1992 to 2000.

Bloch represented the interests of the Swiss people and Jewish communities in negotiations with the government over compensation for Jewish assets that Swiss financial entities seized after their owners were killed in the Holocaust.

Many Holocaust victims had taken out life insurance policies and deposited money and gold with Swiss banks because of Switzerland’s reputation as a banking powerhouse and its neutrality during World War II.

The negotiations yielded hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

During a hearing on the subject in 1997 before the U.S. House of Representatives, Bloch reiterated his motto, which became the Jewish community’s official policy for the talks: “Justice for the Jews, fairness toward Switzerland.”

Tachles’ obituary for Bloch described his style as “characterized by restraint and stability, but also a lot of subtle humor.”

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