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Documents show Soviets, others knew Swiss had more Nazi gold

Swiss gold April 3, 1998
Web posted at: 8:56 p.m. EST (0156 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two U.S. documents that were classified "top secret" reveal that the United States and its allies were told that Swiss banks held far more Nazi gold than the allies accepted in a deal with the Swiss in 1946.

The State Department documents, now declassified and released Friday, were discovered in the U.S. National Archives by the World Jewish Congress.

They refer to a secret 1946 meeting between Soviet and U.S. diplomats in Berlin at which the Soviets produced German bank records found at the German mint where gold was melted.

The records revealed that the Nazis sent 5,239 bars valued at $67 million to the Swiss National Bank and another $2 million in gold to private Swiss banks between October 1941 and August 1943. The gold would be worth about $690 million today.

The source of the looted gold was the Dutch central bank and private interests in the Netherlands.

What is significant about the information is that it came in October 1946, just six months after Switzerland signed an agreement with the United States, Britain and France.

Swiss returned only $58 million

In that so-called "tripartite gold agreement," the allies settled on $58 million as the amount of gold that the Germans had looted from other countries and sent to Switzerland. The agreement provided that the Swiss would return the gold to countries victimized by the Germans.

"Six months after we concluded our negotiations with the Swiss, the Soviets disclose records showing there is much more Nazi gold in Switzerland," said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.

The documents are also proof that the allies knew as early as 1946 that some of the stolen gold came from private sources as well as from national banks, Steinberg said.

A recent Swiss commission concluded that the country's banks obtained $450 million in "Nazi gold" during the war, about a third of which came from private sources.

Efforts to reopen the 1946 gold agreement were rebuffed by the Swiss until recently.

 
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