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Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Published at 20:57 GMT


Nazi gold went to Sweden, says report

An independent study into the Swedish central bank, the Riksbank, has shown it acquired gold from Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The report said that almost 60 tonnes of gold was bought from Germany, much of which has never been accounted for.

An official who helped compile the report said there was no indication that the gold came from individual Jews or concentration camp victims, but he said this could not be entirely ruled out.

The findings were released by a bank-appointed commission after an investigation lasting nearly a year of neutral Sweden's financial dealings with Germany during World War II.

After the war, Sweden returned 6 metric tonnes of gold to the Netherlands and 7.2 metric tonnes to Belgium. The gold, which Sweden had received from Nazi Germany's Reichsbank, was believed to have been taken from those countries' central banks.

The newly discovered gold bears the same kind of markings as gold bars of Dutch origin that were smelted gold coins, the investigation said. It also said it turned up 0.6 metric tons of gold of undetermined origin.

Investigator Harry Flam said research in other countries has shown that gold that the Nazis took from Jews in the Netherlands was melted down and sold to Switzerland.

"Therefore we cannot exclude that this was Jewish gold that was brought into Sweden," he said.

The inquiry commission turned its information over to the Swedish government commission looking into the broader question of whether any property belonging to Jewish victims of the Nazis remains in Sweden.

It was unclear whether that commission would have the power to recommend the restitution of any property.

"Whether Sweden has a restitution responsibility is a moral question, not a legal one," Flam said, according to the Swedish news agency TT. "I think it should be sent back in some way."

Sweden acquired a total of 59.7 metric tonnes from Germany during World War II. Sweden conducted extensive trade with the Nazis, primarily in iron ore and ball bearings that were critical parts of Germany's war effort.

As with other neutral countries such as Switzerland, pressure has been growing on Sweden to provide a full and final accounting of its holdings of property possibly belonging to Nazi victims.

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