Deputy for the dead who will not be deflected
Saturday 08 February 1997
It began with the election of Mr Bronfman, who is 66, to the presidency of the World Jewish Congress in 1981. The son of a Russian-born Jew who founded Seagram, he had for much of his life been not much interested in his Jewish heritage.
His first campaign for world Jewry was the dishonouring of Kurt Waldheim at the end of his spell in the office of UN secretary-general. As he bared the complicity in war crimes of Mr Waldheim as a German officer in the Balkans, Mr Waldheim threatened lawsuits. But Mr Bronfman triumphed.
In 1995 he decided that it was time to apply his vigour as a corporate chief to the refusal of Switzerland's banks to come clean on their role as bankers to Hitler and to unearth assets entrusted to them by so many Jews. The day the banks rue was in September 1995, when he confronted the bank directors, who offered to settle with a $30m package. "They didn't understand that what we want is a proper accounting, not a pay- off", he says now. Since then, he has demanded the banks uncover all records of Jewish accounts and repay money they still hold. "This is the last chapter of the Holocaust," he told Vanity Fair. "And it must be written correctly". The US Congress remained a lead player, and persuaded Switzerland to lift its banking secrecy laws to begin investigation of the assets.
Until the creation of a $70m (pounds 43m) fund by the banks this week, it also led a call for a boycott of Swiss banks. Mr Bronfman has not been deflected; like Mr Wiesenthal, he never allows niceties and international diplomacy to obscure his goal. Of Switzerland and its chocolate-and-watch persona, he bluntly maintains: "They acted as the total ally of the Third Reich".
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...