Leading Nazis included on Swiss bank list
Friday 25 July 1997
The Wiesenthal Centre, which traces Nazi war criminals, pinpointed several names of concern. They include Willy Bauer, an alias used by Anton Burger, the deputy commandant of the Theresienstadt concentration camp and a close associate of Hitler's henchman, Adolf Eichmann, and Elisabeth Eder, the wife of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who headed the Nazis' intelligence service. Another name on the list was that of Vojtech Tuka, puppet prime minister of Slovakia, who helped to transport thousands of Jews. None of the people in question is still alive.
The list was published on Wednesday, after the Swiss government lifted secrecy laws in response to international criticism that the banks had unreasonably blocked claims on the accounts. Many belonged to people killed in the Holocaust, leaving families without any documents to trace assets deposited in Switzerland for safety.
But it includes the names of many non-Jews as well. A previous search showed some accounts belonged to people who, for example, had been unable to claim them because of post-war restrictions in Eastern Europe on owning money abroad.
Efraim Zuroff, who is director of the Israeli office of the Wiesenthal Centre, and a Nazi-hunter, said some of the names on the list were immediately recognisable to him.
"We're in the hands of the Swiss now. If there really is a policy of making every effort to clarify these issues, we should know very quickly. I think it's a reasonable assumption that these names are the people involved."
Greville Janner QC, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said the Swiss should act quickly. "Imagine the feelings of victims' families as they read the list and see the names of victims alongside those of their murderers. Of course they may belong to innocent men who share the names of war criminals. We need to know."
Michael Freitag, for the Swiss Bankers' Association, said any money not claimed within a year would be passed to charity for distribution. He did not know what would happen if heirs attempted to claim the accounts.
Hundreds of people made inquiries yesterday about the published list of names. The Internet site with the list had one million requests for information in the first 36 hours. The Holocaust Educational Trust in London said the telephone had not stopped ringing.
Dr Georg Krayer, chairman of the Swiss Bankers' Association, admitted that the list showed names that could have been tracked down if efforts had been made.
That point was proved by Madeleine Moulierac, 86, of Nice. Her late husband had an account she knew nothing about and which gathered dust even though she has lived at the same address for 60 years.
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