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Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 19:50 GMT


Nazi gold compensation scheme grows
image: [ Nazi  gold is currently owned by 15 countries ]
Nazi gold is currently owned by 15 countries

Two more countries have agreed to contribute to a compensation fund at the International Nazi gold conference, which has ended in London.

Austria and Poland have promised to add their share of 5.5 tonnes of gold looted by Nazis into a new fund to help needy survivors of Nazi persecution. Austria's share is worth about $9m, Poland's is worth just under $500,000.

The gold is currently owned by 15 countries. Luxembourg, Greece and Croatia have agreed to hand over all or part of their claims. Argentina and Brazil said they plan to make a donation.

The US is pledging $4m to the fund and has plans to give a further $25m over a three-year period, if Congress approves. Britain has offered $1.5m (1m).

But France is still insisting on the return of gold it is owed rather than handing it over to the new fund.

The three-day meeting, the first of its kind, brought together governments, central banks and non-governmental organisations to discuss gold reserves stolen by the Nazis during World War II and compensation for Holocaust victims.

[ image: Stuart  Eizenstat - the conference was a landmark event]
Stuart Eizenstat - the conference was a landmark event
The head of the American delegation, Stuart Eizenstat, said the conference was a landmark event in coming to terms with a painful period of history and doing justice to its victims. He announced a follow up meeting next year in Washington to discuss other assets looted by the Nazis, including works of art.

But the World Jewish Congress attacked Switzerland's refusal to give back more of the looted gold.

[ image: The Vatican is under pressure]
The Vatican is under pressure
It also called on the Vatican to open up its archives in order to answer charges that it had been a recipient of Nazi gold. Jewish leaders say there is evidence that suggests the Vatican may have processed a huge amount of stolen gold coins.

The conference produced a mass of historical information, but there are still gaps in the record, notably how much gold from Holocaust victims the Nazis melted down.

Britain and France still insist that the archives of the tri-partite Gold Commission, charged with distributing recovered gold to governments, should be opened only when the commission has finished its work.

That is expected to happen within two or three months.

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Internet Links

London Conference on Nazi Gold

Swiss Banks' Dormant Accounts Web Site

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