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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 16:43 GMT
Historians reveal Swiss-Nazi links
Auschwitz death camp
Switzerland rejected Jewish refugees
By the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Berne

A commission of historians looking into Switzerland's activities during World War II have revealed how the country served as a financial centre for the Nazis and its relationship with fascist Italy.

The newly-released reports also provide a look at Switzerland's treatment of Jewish refugees during the war years.


Thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, some thought to have been stolen from Holocaust victims, were found in the German embassy in Berne at the end of the war

The nine reports from the Commission of Historians are altogether over 1,000 pages long.

They are an exhaustive study of Switzerland's financial transactions with Germany during WW II.

The historians found that German assets worth more than $1bn were transferred to Switzerland between 1939 and 1945.

'Stolen' diamonds

The report says the Swiss authorities moved only reluctantly to control the transfers after pressure from the allied powers.

Looted possessions from the occupied countries also found their way to Switzerland.

Bar of gold with Nazi stamp
German assets worth $1bn were moved to Switzerland

Thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, some thought to have been stolen from Holocaust victims, were found in the German embassy in Berne at the end of the War.

The Commission of Historians also criticises Switzerland's relationship with Italy at the time.

Lawyers working for the Commission say Switzerland violated its own neutrality laws by granting Italy credits to pay for Swiss supplies of armaments.

And while Switzerland's rejection of Jewish refugees during the war years was documented some time ago, a new report confirms that thousands of Jews were turned away from Switzerland's borders after 1942, when the Swiss authorities had clear knowledge of the Nazi death camps.

The historians say anti-Semitism was an important factor in the Swiss decision not to accept Jewish refugees.

The Swiss Government has already apologised for that policy.

The Commission of Historians was set up by the Swiss Government in 1997, at the height of the controversy over Switzerland's wartime past.

A final report is due to be published early next year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes
"Lawyers working for the Commission say Switzerland violated its own neutrality laws"
See also:

11 Oct 01 | Europe
Swiss banks return Holocaust cash
05 Feb 01 | Europe
Swiss help Jews find lost savings
19 Apr 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Holocaust Day
20 Jun 01 | Europe
Nazi slave fund pays out
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