Swiss to discuss Nazi gold loot

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The Swiss government has invited Greville Janner MP to discuss the Nazi gold affair in Berne next week.

Mr Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Education Trust and vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, will demand an immediate contribution by the Swiss to Jewish charities working with Holocaust survivors as a "significant gesture to the victims of Nazism who are fast dieing away". He will also press for speed and openness in investigating what happened to Nazi-looted wealth.

The meeting will be the first face-to-face opportunity for putting his case to Flavio Cotti, the Swiss foreign secretary, Thomas Borer, who is heading the inquiry, and Swiss members of parliament. Mr Janner, with David Hunt MP who chairs the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Anti- Semitism, also hopes to meet bankers.

Switzerland has been embarrassed by the storm of controversy which followed allegations that at the end of the Second World War it held on to gold which it knew could not have been obtained by Germany legally. In September, the Swiss government bowed to worldwide pressure and announced plans to lift the secrecy surrounding its banking business to help the search for any such wealth left in its bank vaults.

Mr Janner said yesterday that next Monday's meeting was further evidence of movement in the Swiss position. "It is very significant," he said.

Robert Reich, attache at the Swiss embassy in London, said yesterday: "The meeting is to enable Mr Janner to present his queries and current preoccupations concerning the whole matter. From our side, we want to outline to him once again what has been undertaken and done in Switzerland."

Jewish campaigners have been pressing for action on the former Nazi wealth. Lawyers acting for the World Jewish Congress last week called on Britain, France and the United States to delay distribution of pounds 50bn of Nazi-looted gold held in the Bank of England until its origin was established. It is due to be returned to countries from which it was plundered during occupation. Jewish organisations claim some of it came from private persons and efforts should be made to trace them or their families.