I was pretty horrified at the one-sided presentation of your show. It seems that
people are interpreting the Swiss peoples actions during the war by using today's
"politically correct" standards - and not considering what was happening at the
time. It is very easy for us to sit here today, all safe and sound, and say "well
I would have done this or that." I'm sure the reality of that time would have been
Note that the U.S. was not that perfect either - they traded with the Germans up
until they got involved in the war. The U.S. also turned away Jews. There is
documentation of them turning away a huge shipful of Jews.
The Germans did what they did to the Jews because of Hitler and his men - NOT
because of Switzerland. The blame remains with Hitler - not the people in a
I was very impressed at your documentary on Nazi Gold on Tuesday June 17, 1997. It
seems impossible to be neutral about anything after seeing such a show. The
polarization of left versus right was dramatically portrayed resulting in the
destruction of millions while others profited by it all proclaiming neutrality. If
the Jews had been armed they could have protected themselves. If the Swiss hadn't
funded the Germans, it could have ended much sooner. Lives could have been saved
all around including our own. Justice must be served and the money returned to the
Unfortunately the seeds seam to be currently sowing for another repeat of this
tragedy, possibly right here in our own country!
Whatever awards are possible in your industry for such journalism should be easily
won by your crew. The photography was astounding and narration superb. I cried
several times at those scenes especially the old grainy film of a child trying to
be close to his mother as the officer kept kicking her away! I'm almost to tears
just writing this thinking about it! Yet this continues to occur today with the
millions of abortions to date that are in reality a more heinous crime than what
Hitler himself has done! Someone totally innocent, safe in a mothers womb as armed
militia invade and destroy and profit thereby! And all for totally selfish reasons!
For convenience. How long will we remain neutral with this? How long will God
continue to allow such depravity?
I have always enjoyed your program in the past and will continue to watch it and
recommend it in the future.
We applaud PBS & WGBH for the production and showing of "Nazi Gold." Sure, there
remain unanswered questions, but what is clear even now is the stonewalling of the
Swiss bankers concerning the accounts of individuals who trusted them to preserve
and protect their assets as they faced the horror of deportation, imprisonment, and
death at the hands of the Nazis ruling Germany in the Thirties.
Programs such as this one raise awareness of all the ramifications of the Holocaust,
including the reactions of supposedly neutral countries.
Ernest & Gabriella Schlesinger
New London, CT
I think Switzerland's involvement with the
Nazi's is horrible, but not surprising.
I have yet to learn and hear about a
"civilized" country that has not participated
in heinous crimes against people, all in an
effort to become wealthy and powerful. The
U.S. is mimicking the Swiss involvement right
now in their support of Indonesia annihilating
the people of Timor. I pray that someday our
leaders will become role models and work to
save all people--not only themselves.
I am a Swiss myself but I have to say that I
am shocked regarding my governments actions
during W.W.II. What I learned through you
documentary has left me with sadness and
compassion in my heart for those who suffered
because of the Swiss. My grandmother lived in Zurich
during the war. She used to tell me stories
regarding that time. They often contradicted
to what we learned from school history
books. Today I am certain her accounts were
real. Most countries have a burden of injustice
to carry: Europe for its colonies, the US for
slavery and the killings of Native Americans.
For Switzerland this is a completely new
situation. Never before have accusations
like this existed. But perhaps what we all
need to lear is how to handle our past and
to acknowledge truthfully what others before
us have created.
The program was truly outstanding! I congratulate you on raising, by implication, a
whole series of moral and ethical dilemmas regarding Swiss actions during the war.
Although some of the Swiss officials who were interviewed claimed that there was a
moral basis for Swiss collaboration with the Nazis, it was not surprising that no
one was able to articulate the exact nature of the alleged moral basis. Moral
bankruptcy was the real reason for Swiss actions. Whereas in other countries, such
as France, Italy, and Poland, individuals risked their lives and those of their
families to join the Resistance and fight the horror, it appears that for the
Swiss, their sole moral imperative was self preservation. In Denmark, the entire
country, refused to comply with Nazi demands. Clearly, the Swiss owe a staggering
moral and financial debt to the Allies, to those who died fighting the Nazis, to
the victims of the Holocaust, and to Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
Even today, many Germans have come to deal with the horror their government inflicted;
however, the Swiss appear to be in total denial. "Neutral" is not an appropriate
term to describe Swiss actions during the war: they were no different than the
Vichy French. I hope that you will follow the program up with a sequel which also
focuses on additional details concerning what the U.S. and other Allied
intelligence knew about Swiss collaboration.
I am disturbed by what appears to be an single-minded effort by the author of this
program to present his view, viz. a vilification and indictment of Switzerland.
Where, for example, was there mention of the two earlier post-war efforts of Swiss
banks to encourage survivors to claim their assets? Why was there no mention of
the "courier" system used by Jews to deposit their assets and the inherent problems
of fraud resulting from this system following the end of the war?
As in most situations, the problem depicted by Frontline is not as one-dimensional
as Frontline would like us all to believe. While I believe that acts of
inhumanity and patent theft undoubtedly were committed by Swiss during and after
the war, I am concerned the incipient bias of Frontline's presentation invariably
gives those that will an excuse for categorically denying the germ of truth that is
indeed Switzerland's shame.
The program "Nazi Gold" condemned Switzerland
for their sneaky cooperation with Nazis during
WW2. I suppose most Swiss would respond to this
by saying "we had to survive too from Nazis".
Clearly any Jew would see this kind of defense
immoral. Yet today The State of Israel cooperates
militarily with Turkey- a country that during
1915 slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians. Where
is the outrage from Jewish community that they
are dealing with a country that does not even
have civility to acknowledge the fact that 1.5 million
Armenians were slaughtered by Turks. Are we going to
apply different standard for Israel dealing
with devil in the name of "survival"?
Bravo to PBS and frontline for another excellent investigation.
The evidence is irrefutable. Swiss individuals collaborated and, indeed, provided
invaluable financial and manufacturing services for the Nazi war effort. In
addition, the Swiss banking community was party to the looting of Jewish property
and the embezzlement of Jewish bank accounts.
By admitting wrongdoing, the Swiss government has taken the right first step. Now
it is incumbent upon the government and banking community to repay, without
reservation, amounts owing to survivors of the holocaust. Anything less will leave
a cloud of guilt upon the heads of all Swiss people- a legacy that I am sure the
people would not desire.
I hope that Frontline's other documentaries
which I usually appreciated and accepted as
fact were not biased as this show turned out
to be. I spent all the 6 long war years in
Switzerland, and also served in their army
and I know for sure that you (PBS) mouthed
so many untruths, half truths & insinuations
that were uttered by people who do not know
first hand. Granted, there were many things
done then which most Swiss would be ashamed
of now looking with 20/20 hindsight; but you
reporters have no idea what it is when you
are totally surrounded by an Evil Empire
shying away from no atrocity.
The first human reaction is to make sure that
your family stays safe. The first obliga-
tion of a country's government is to protect
The whole army was clearly anti-Nazi, as
were at least 90% of the people. In my
home town, we housed thousands of Jewish
refugees, and several went through public
school with me. The top man in the Swiss
army, General Guisan, was solidly anti-
Hitler; but there was indeed one very
detested Federal Councilor (Pilet-Golaz)
who sympathized with Hitler.
Some Swiss banks may have appropriated
money for which they might have found
the proper owners or their heirs after
the war, but where is the country where
ALL banks and businesses always behave
in a morally irreprehensible way?
Yes, many Swiss banks owe the Jewish
people an acknowledgment of guilt and
restitution, but for PBS to do this
like a witch hunt, with innuendo, hearsay,
and downright wrong accusations is - to
say the least - very disappointing.
I was very troubled by the entire program. All
my life I had accepted, without question, the
"neutral" position taken by the Swiss. Now I see
that there is no such thing as being neutral in
a war between good and evil. You must be on one
side or the other: there is no neutral zone. I
am very disturbed that the Swiss government
is fighting so hard to cover their actions. They
should admit their error and make full restitution
to the individual Jews and the countries from
which they profited. The fact that the Swiss citizens,
who knew what was happening, refuse to speak openly of
their country's shameful behavior speaks volumes as to
their guilt. The NAZI GOLD program will certainly make
them remember what they did to the Jewish people.
Perhaps the guilty will realize that their sin is
not going to be forgotten; the only way to clear
themselves is to make a full and honest confession
to the rest of the world. I pray that the people
of the Unites States will never allow our
government to take a "neutral" position like
the Swiss did. I am now haunted by the fact
that the USA did not bomb the Swiss factories.
We must share some of the guilt.
Garden City, Michigan
I found ""Nazi Gold" tendentious, simplistic, manipulative. At its worst,
the program was a mirror-image of Goebbels stereotyping, with the Swiss as
rats. I make no excuses for the Swiss. Their wartime record was
deplorable. But any program on this subject should begin by acknowledging
the truths documented in David Wyman's "Abandonment of the Jews: America and
the Holocaust, 1941-1945" (NY, 1984). Not only did the US close its gates to
Jewish refugees, before, during and after the war, as Wyman documents, but
immediately after the war we gave sanctuary to Nazi war criminals and
competed with the Soviets in recruiting Nazi rocket scientists and
intelligence officers. We did this in the name of national security and for
political reasons, as did the Swiss. As for the British, their record was
every bit as shameful, and in fact they led the way in persuading Harry
Truman in 1947 to write off the Swiss banking sins for cold war purposes.
It would have your program fairer, stronger, and more morally complex
if someone had some of this at some point in the program and if you had not
used a sound track to underscore what needed to underscoring.
The documentary was informative in a clear and concise way. I learned a
lot. The research seemed solid; the interviews were well juxtaposed between
competing interpretations (my polite way of saying, "it was clear who was
lying") and the narrative was simple but hauntingly compelling.
I learned so much. I didn't know, for example, that Swiss armament
manufacturers supplied the nazi war machine. Why "we" maintained the
fiction of a neutral Switzerland is beyond me.
Your documentary's sober tone made the subject matter by contrast -- more
I can go on and on about how well done it was, but I'm very upset by what I
learned and would like to digest it now.
Good luck on all future endeavors.
I lived in Geneva (as a foreigner) in the 60's. We often heard of the alpine
bunkers (adapted at this time to shelter the Swiss from nuclear holocaust),
and that the Swiss Army was directed to shoot non-Swiss who tried to find
refuge there. We would see Arabs in banks with large valises full of
American currency and wonder what might be going on. We saw the Swiss accept
impoverished guest workers from other countries to perform menial tasks, then
deport them a month before the time was ripe when they might send for their
families or apply for Swiss citizenship. I have never thought of the Swiss
as a peaceful, pure bucolic people.
I thought I knew the shocking details of the fiduciary dealings of the
Swiss with the Nazis, and of their purloining the last savings of Jews who
trusted them. I had no idea the extent of this. Thank you for your
informative and well-crafted program. It is imperative the world be made
aware of these awful secrets. Let us hope it brings justice to those
directly affected, before it is too late.
The Piano Factory
I watched Nazi Gold with mixed emotions. On the one hand,
I am horrified and angered that the Swiss banking
community was involved at some level in financing the
Nazi war machine. Whether it was at the level pronounced
in the program, I'm not sure. On the other hand, Switzerland was in a very
precarious position and therefore it is hard for me to endorse complete castigation
of their actions. Had they
announced their allegiance to the Allies, it is possible
that Hitler and Mussolini would have overrun the country and then Switzerland could
have done nothing to help anybody. By declaring their neutrality they possibly
helped save lives, even with their alleged and/or real instances of allowing slave
trains to travel through the country or allowing factories to make munitions. I
think the Swiss actions during war are over and done with and we need to look
toward compensating those, the Jews, whose lives were destroyed or marred by the
loss of family members and family money on the part of the Swiss government and the
Swiss banks. In fact, this situation is somewhat similar to the Japanese-American
internment. America apologized for its actions and compensated the survivors. Why
shouldn't Switzerland do the same?
Sherman Oaks, CA
Horrible things were done by people on all
sides during the war. The Swiss did what
they thought they had to do to survive, just
as the Israelis do now to the Palestinians in
order to survive. Maybe the Swiss banks
should give the Jewish money from W.W.II to the
Palestinians for the loss of their lands and
I watched with great interest your documentary on "Nazi Gold", and found it to be
one-sided and sensationalized. As a small example of the sensationalism attached to
this very emotional issue, a survivor of a Holocaust victim claims that his parents
deposited SFr 18'000 in a Swiss bank which would be worth perhaps "one million
dollars today", he claimed. That is simply not so, and to air that is to
irresponsibly add fuel to the fire.
There was far too little attention given to the real issue of Swiss neutrality and
what that meant, and what kinds of threats the Swiss faced from the Nazis.
The documentary alluded to the fact that the US did not push this issue during the
lifetime of the Cold War because it needed Switzerland and Germany. The end of the
Cold War now leaves room to open old wounds.
There was far too much footage on the atrocities that the Nazis committed, blurring
the distinctions between Swiss and Nazi, and promoting guilt to the Swiss by
association (purely within the context of the documentary).
It seems to me that the issue today is to assist the return of funds deposited in
Swiss banks prior to the war to their rightful owners. Moral considerations that
promote the idea that the Swiss were complicit with the Nazis will only divide
people. It is time for forgiveness on the part of all parties involved, and only in
this way can old wounds be allowed to heal, and true lessons learned so that people
around the world are not senselessly murdered.
It seems that Frontline is losing its objectivity.
From the onset of this program, the premise was
that Switzerland is guilty as accused. The documentary?
then set out to convince the viewers that there is
only one story to be told - that Switzerland was a
war criminal. Your odd use of music, and juxtaposition
of images blatantly exhibited a bias which I
used to believe Frontline was above.
New York, NY
This was an excellent show. I hope young people had a chance to see it too.
It appears that Switzerland has always maintained a pattern of "convenient
neutrality" with the blessing of the rest of the world. What is the difference
between financing the Nazi regime or keeping moneys for most dictators in the
world. In other words, is there that much difference between Hitler killings and
those of political dissidents in Zaire/Congo or the Philippines? Yet, Switzerland
has carefully guarded their wealth.
I think the Swiss government & banks should take full responsibility for what they
obviously knew what happened during WW II: the slave running, the manufacture of
munitions, the using of their "neutrality" to make de facto deals with the Nazis
and especially the collusion of deporting Jews to extermination as well as the
confiscation of their wealth. I think the history books need a thorough revision in
light of all of this profound evidence. Records or not, if they could keep up with
who cleaned blood off the floor, then they should have known who had what bank
account. To my thinking, they are just as culpable as the Nazis, probably even
more insidious than the Nazis - at least they were up front about what their agenda
was; the Swiss were just two timing everybody they could for the gold, etc. The
world likes to talk about how greedy America has been over the years. Well,
according to this latest account, America hasn't got anything on the Swiss!!!
I am thanking you for showing the film "SWISS GOLD" last night. I could
not sleep all night. By hearing this morning in BBC news that Mercury
was found in Swiss gold coins originated from teeth of Jewish victims of
the Holocaust my sadness & anger became even worse.
I am the last living person out of my entire family of about 70 members.
Almost all my immediate relatives were sent to Poland to be murdered by
the Nazis. Slovak Fascist government paid 500 DM per person to the
Germans to murder 71,000 Slovak Jews. Slovaks have never apologized,
expressed any remorse or have never even mentioned any compensation.
By joining restored Czechoslovakia (the original victim of Nazism) they
have silently disappeared from view playing to have been victims just
the same as the Swiss did. I am still working having no pension. But
all Nazis do enjoying their retirement with their families.
Please let BBC, Mr. Christopher Ogliati and Mr. Bromfman know to
continue exposing OTHER former and not repented Nazis to the world. To
condemn their immoral actions is the only way to achieve at least some
justice and prevent criminal murderers to keep all their loot. Even if
the dead cannot be revived at least those who survived and remember them
can sleep nights a little better.
Tibor R. Spitz
The lawyers, accountants, (if alive) of the post WW2 time era who raided their
clients accounts, & bank officials that conspired in the cover up, should be tried
as nazi war criminals. Switzerland as a country should be severely sanctioned and
made to pay war reparations to the Allies. Switzerland should not be allowed to
demand that half of the restored moneys be spent in that country. Post the email
address of Swiss officials/government so we can tell them what we think of their
reprehensible actions and denials then and now.
Thank you for exposing and documenting the long-held secret of Swiss
culpability in Nazi atrocities during World War II.
I'd read of the Swiss bankers' role in swindling surviving Jews out of their
lawful and rightful inheritances. But your program went further and broke new
ground by also documenting the willful and deliberate role of the Swiss
government in collaborating with the Germans in their prosecution of the war.
Outstanding journalism. Thanks to all.
As a military historian with some knowledge of World War II, I find the notion that
bankers contributed in any significant way to long term Nazi war effort,
The Nazi's ran a police state based on force, or the threat of force whenever that
was easier to use than existing law. They also occupied or controlled nearly all of
Europe for much of the war. From 1940 onwards, the Germans controlled most of
France, all of Norway, almost all of Eastern Europe, and the vast economic power of
the "expanded" German state (Germany, Austria, most of the Czech republic, most of
Compared to this assembled economic power, tiny Switzerland's minor economic
contribution to the German war effort is almost irrelevant.
Regarding the need to convert gold to hard currency: just what were the Nazi's
buying with hard currency? They didn't have any significant trade outside of their
occupied territories (with the exception of Sweden). Within the territories under
their control, they could (and did) force people and business to accept paper money
in exchange for real goods and resources. The fact that this Nazi "money" was not
backed by real assets was immaterial. It was backed by the power (and threat) of
the German armed forces.
To be sure, there was some minor trade in very rare metals that occurred between
Germany and some neutral countries who insisted on hard currency (and sometimes
gold) as the medium of exchange. However, to argue that these trades had any
significant effect on the war flies in the face of considerable evidence to the
contrary. The United States and Great Britain spent a great deal of resources and
lost many brave men attempting to "shut down" the Nazi war economy by some very
carefully thought-out strategic bombing. Objective analysis after the war showed
the strategic bombing campaign was basically a failure. It is hardly likely that a
more perfect trade embargo against Germany would have succeeded where direct
bombing had failed.
The truth is, Germany could have had all the gold in the world and it would not have
substantially altered its military/economic standing. The Germans lost the war for
many reasons, not least being the fact that the Allies had vastly superior
productive capacity over the Germans, even with most of Europe under Nazi control.
Quantitatively, the Allies out produced Germany by two to one or more in every
important category: tanks, artillery, planes, and ships. Money, in the form of
gold, or notes, was largely unimportant in the "battle" of production.
The Swiss behavior regarding Germany was certainly in violation of international
laws of neutrality. Swiss treatment of Jewish refugees was (and is) disgraceful.
But did the Swiss help prolong World War II by even one day? I very much doubt it.
You certainly failed to prove anything of the kind in your program.
San Jose, CA
I would first like to commend you an a wealth put together and information
documentary. I have been a scholar of world war two for some time. The information
you presented was unknown to me, and I must is extremely disturbing. It is also
interesting as most of my family perished in the concentration camps, and as far as
I know my parents are the only remaining from their respective families, and it is
difficult for them to even discuss what happened during the events of this era. I
also know that my Mothers parents were extremely affluent, perhaps even having
accounts in Switzerland.
My opinion on the Swiss has changed dramatically during recent times, given the
recent revelations regarding the international Red Cross, and their knowledge of
what was happening in the concentration camps. Now with the information you
presented on the Swiss government and the Bank's part in the Nazi rise, I am
disgusted. I do not know how they can hide behind a neutrality excuse, given their
role in the laundering of plundered good's, and the spoils of wars, I believe that
they should be treated as part of the Nazi regime, and punished accordingly. The
excuse that they were protecting there people and nation is unacceptable, while the
rest of the world suffered (including Germany) the Swiss continued to prosper. Have
they no conscience?
I could go on and on, however, this an extremely emotional issue.
Frontline was a program which I had previously found to be insightful, and
ultimately enriching, whether or not I happened to agree with the topic matter or
the way in which it was presented. Tonight's airing however was different.
Information was clearly provided to viewers in a manner, reeking of propaganda. If
your goal was to incite a general sense of anger towards a population of people,
who I might add, had nothing to personally do with "the War" or the efforts of
Nazi Germany, then you may have accomplished your goal. If your true goal was to
present information for the public to objectively ingest, then you failed
miserably. As journalists, I believe you have an enormous responsibility in
presenting information in a fair and honest manner. This was neither fair or
honest----It was bashing at its finest. Needless to say, I found this presentation
so morally offensive that I shall choose to no longer watch Frontline and further
will not support the efforts of the Public Broadcasting System.
I've been following news articles re: Nazi Gold but your documentary will still
shocking. I hope you will continue to update PBS viewers as more information
unfolds. In all fairness, you should include stories of courageous Swiss people
who shielded or saved Jews or opposed the bankers' collaboration with the Nazis.
Even though Switzerland was not an occupied country, weren't there organizations
who resisted what was going on? The video mentions the trains of Jews and slave
laborers going through the country at night. Was there no organized protest? How
influential was the Swiss Jewish community at the time? The documentary brings to
mind Hannah Arendt's phrase about the "banality of evil." For Swiss nationals to
oppose the evils of that time would risk ostracism at the least, and death at the
worst. The same mechanisms operated here in our own country during the 1950s
witch-hunts. Those who spoke out or resisted totalitarians acting under cover of
Congress and the
federal government saw their careers destroyed. Two American Jews, Ethel and Julius
Rosenberg were executed during the hysteria. People who resisted the government's
story they were atom spies and believed in the Rosenbergs' innocence often saw
their careers derailed via red-baiting (guilt by association). We in this country
have our own cross to bear in accommodating to totalitarians with political power.
I think that the actions of the Swiss toward the Jews was reprehensible. Having said
that, however, their actions and conduct must be viewed in the time and
circumstances. Switzerland, a small nation and not militarily powerful, it would
seem was walking a tight rope in its relations with Germany. It could not risk
antagonizing the Nazis for fear of being attacked and conquered. So it chose
appeasement of various kinds. What they did looks vastly different after the
passage of 50 years. Would any of us, faced with invasion and war, have chosen
substantially different? Didn't the United States in 1939 refuse to allow a ship
full of Jewish refugees to dock in this country, an act which consigned its
passengers to their deaths? And didn't the United States have less reason to do
this than did the Swiss?
As far as the Swiss bankers are concerned, this is total greed. They should realize
that their conduct will cause the rest of the world to lose faith in Swiss banks,
and faith is what a banking system needs most of all.
One could not help but be moved and impressed by Nazi Gold, aired yesterday on the
Washington DC PBS station. The broadcast mentioned only in passing that while they
sent back thousands of Jews, the Swiss did welcome some 27,000 Jewish men, women
and children. My parents and I were among them, and I attach a page from my
I realize very well that such individual stories do not weigh for much in the
balance, and that the Swiss policies and attitudes were very complex and often
contradictory. I am also aware of the fact that 1942 was early days, that Swiss
policy tightened up later, that Geneva might have been more lenient than
German-speaking Switzerland, and that priority was being given to mothers with
young children (I was 9 months old at the time). Still, there is no doubt in my
mind that the Swiss saved our lives (my father's, Alice's, my mother, and mine).
The broadcast might have mentioned this other side of the story.
International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group
My father's account (translated from the German):
Montauban, Vichy France, August of 1942:
"After the massive dragnet had ended and thousands had begun their journey to
Auschwitz, it became easier to get a laissez passer for traveling to Annemasse
near Geneva; once the wave of mass arrests was over, the authorities felt there
was no reason to harass the remaining refugees further. That was very noble. We
needed money, and asked Margot, who had married again and was living on the Cote
d'Azur. She sent us the money without hesitation as a matter of course; we are
thankful to her to this day. We knew of a spot where the border could be crossed
-- one had to contact a shepherd, using a password. One night he escorted us across
the border. It was pouring. I was carrying Guy in a sack, but he lost his milk
bottle and his pacifier, and began to scream. Fortunately French customs officials
didn't like to leave their shelters when it was raining hard, and so left us alone.
Suddenly we saw headlights coming at us. Thank God it turned out to be a Geneva
cab. We showed up at
an acquaintance of mine, spent the rest of the night on a couple of armchairs and
reported next morning to the authorities who directed us to a family center, a
former hotel. Eventually I ended up in a camp near Zurich, in a dis-used factory,
while Alice and Guy were interned in a women's camp in Luzern... After a few months
I was transferred to Sierre in the Rhone valley, where I helped build roads. *
Eventually I was freed, in order to finish my book on the relationship between
Renaissance popes and the Turks, and so until the end of the war we lived in a
hamlet near Klosters. It was so quiet there that we would all come to the window
when a cow strolled by.
* while my father was interned, my mother and I lived with a Swiss family in Arosa
under the aegis of a Protestant organization, what we would call an NGO.
Chevy Chase, Md.
The narration seemed too definitive for a subject that is still under study by all
Yet, it's good to highlight the "see no evil..." approach of many.
The on-line Web stories I read from Geneva press indicates an unwillingness to
believe many of the Frontline findings.
A very well-balanced presentation which has totally altered my perception of Swiss
neutrality for the worst. I find it odd that police records, mentioned in the
broadcast, still exist, but banking records do not. Swiss bankers behavior
indicates that they remain very well aware that their treatment of these accounts
was improper. The growth of German assets clearly indicates complicity on the part
of the keepers of those assets. Swiss neutrality seems to have been appeasement.
As a Jew, and particularly as one who both lost many family members to the Nazis and
several of whose cousins found safe haven in Switzerland during the war, I keenly
anticipated your program.
Regrettably, I found it intensely disappointing in that it failed to take advantage
of the opportunity posed to fully develop the theses posited by the producers.
Specifically, I was dismayed that the producers opted for a format of soft-core
images of beautifully pastoral Swiss vistas and voice-over in lieu of hard facts
and statistical data.
The Holocaust deniers and their co-conspirators, those espousing views typified by
even the "good' Swiss, such as Herr Borer, find refuge until confronted with
undeniable documentary facts. Why could your program not have furnished even a
modicum of the hard evidence that's being unearthed daily, even as this debate
Several useful examples come to mind:
1. You spoke about the Swiss furnishing arms to the Reich. What was produced, in
what quantities during each year of the War, where were they deployed, where were
the factories located (did you ever hear of maps?) and did you seek the opinions of
any military experts regarding estimates of just how many American and British
soldiers did in fact die at the hands of Wehrmacht troops deploying these weapons?
Curiously, you omitted any mention of Russian casualties attributable to the same.
Is there a reason why?
2. You stated that Switzerland was not the only country that provided financial
services to the Nazis. Who were the others? What exactly did they do? (Again,
years, amounts, etc. -- in a word, specifics)
3. You allowed an on-camera interview with one Holocaust survivor who opined that
his parents' deposit of several hundred dollars would now be worth one million
dollars. Was that a responsible bit of journalism?
In a similar vein, you went into no credible detail regarding amounts stolen and
funneled through Switzerland, nor did you furnish any data about the effect these
assets had on the Swiss economy, except to make a meaningless blanket reference
that the Swiss got rich by the War.
All in all, not a bit of reportage worth staying up for, or are your sights set
so low that you've convinced yourselves this is serious journalism?
Studio City, CA
Thank you for the superb Frontline documentary "Nazi Gold." As the grandson of a
Holocaust victim, I was shocked to learn that a country I had always thought was
neutral during the war was in fact deeply involved in perpetuating the Nazi war
machine. But I was even more disturbed by the fact that the Swiss refused entry to
desperate Jewish refugees and apparently allowed trains carrying Italian Jews to
certain death in Germany to transit Swiss territory. What a disgrace! The program
was carefully researched and presented in a compelling but sober fashion.
Congratulations to all involved for an exemplary effort. This, indeed, is what
Public TV is and should be all about.
San Francisco, CA
This broadcast was another of the many uses of the media
by the World Jewish Congress and its affiliates to spread
the propaganda that all the Gentile nations are responsible
for the anti-Semitism during World War II and that all are
just as guilty of the deaths of Jews as the Nazis were.
This belief is a bunch of crap. Furthermore, for Bronfman
to state that the drive behind the quest to find the missing
Jewish accounts is for the principle and not the money is
almost blasphemous. The fact is that his organization smells
money to be extorted from Switzerland with the help of his
lackeys in Congress such as D'Amato, who I am sure will now
be re-elected. This whole thing smells! It is only a matter
of time before "documents" are uncovered showing the U.S.
also benefited from these "missing accounts" and that
"payments" should be made to the descendants of the dead
account holders. Maybe payments have already been quietly
made. Finger pointing never brought closure and healing but
only brought forth the hypocrisy of the finger pointer.
When Israel changes its policy toward the Palestinians and
stops murdering and torturing them, then they can point the
finger of accusation against the Gentile nations.
I enjoyed your program very much. I think that the Swiss banks should reimburse
those accounts. I don't think that they will be able to be paid in full. Some type
of agreement must be made. Switzerland looked to be an old country. I am all for
preserving historical places what have you. So hopefully the whole world can learn
from others mistakes. There is a lot of history there even though they are in the
wrong. What would anybody do in a situation like Switzerland's was in during the
war. They were trying to save their people and their country. Which they did. If
the United states would of known about this during the war, Switzerland may not be
here now. The technology was not there to surgically remove military
installations. We had to do mass bombing to achieve our target goal. If no death
certificates can be produced than there has to be other ways to withdraw moneys
owed to the Jews. No one can go into any bank and withdraw moneys without the
I think that some kind of fund could be established to pay them all back. Sort of
like social security benefits to all the Jews or their next of kin. So that maybe
these people can live the rest of their life will a little more piece.
Just watched Frontline tonight. As a
retired soldier who spent 37 years in the
Canadian Armed Forces, I must admit to being
appalled at what I saw. I don't mean the death
and destruction, dreadful as it was, I mean the
fact that the Swiss were able to profit from the
deaths of others and did little or nothing
to help refugees. It makes me sick.
The Swiss have obviously become very wealthy
on the blood and tears of others. Your
program zeroes in on the Jewish people
who deposited funds in Swiss bank accounts
and who were robbed of their wealth.
However, I am sure that there are others who also
lost their wealth to the seemingly greedy Swiss.
What is being done to help these people? The Swiss must
surely be made to atone for their actions to all
people from all of the countries they have violated.
The fact that they manufactured arms which were
used by the Germans against the very people from
whom the money to pay for the arms was taken,
deserves atonement in itself. If they don't, they
will never be trusted again. I firmly believe
that the bank official who stated to your interviewer
that, by law, the Swiss banks could not keep,
or did not have, records of past transactions, was
Victoria. B.C. Canada
A bitterly sad reminder of the gossamer thin veil of civilization spread over modern
society. The mindless and heartless pursuit of money, at any and all cost, as
reflected in the Swiss treatment of Jewish bank accounts and unrelenting complicity
with Nazi Germany, is just the latest example of an ageless truism. Personally, I
was disgusted by the actions of the Swiss, I was offended by the sanctimonious
denials offered by the blonde/teutonic government toady and I will have to consider
most seriously whether I ever return to Switzerland as a money spending tourist. My
hat is off to Mr. Bronfman!! His courage and dedication, in the face is official
indifference, is wonderful. We are all guilty here - let's not forget that. The
US turned too many blind eyes too many times in our short and ignoble history to be
able to criticize other countries. We must all learn from this disgusting lesson:
the love of money (not money per se) is truly the root of much evil, much
much indifference and much degradation of the soul. Thanks for a great program.
Los Angeles, CA.
This was a terrible revelation. I'm Jewish and many of my relatives died in W.W.II. A
It was shocking to realize that the country which I thought so highly of was
directly and indirectly responsible for my relatives death and misery.
The Swiss deliberately chose the path of least resistance, highest profit, and
supported incalculable human misery. For this they should be ashamed, even after
fifty years has past.
I was fascinated that so few of the Swiss were willing, or able, to put a human face
on the tragedy they helped to foster. It would have been so easy to have given
people their money, after the war. And held the moral high ground.
But they retreated from that moral high ground and simply stole incalculable moneys
from their dead and their relatives.
I'd wager that ALL other accounts from that era can be accounted for. If Adolf
Eichmann had an account, I'll bet that it could be traced if his heirs wanted
to withdraw the money. Only Jewish accounts have "disappeared."
I found your program about Switzerland's financial dealing with Germany
unbelievable. The Swiss were repulsive and repugnant in their deals
with the Nazi's. It seems that greed took over the Swiss banks and the
Swiss government during the world war II period. If anything we should
force the Swiss to account for all moneys and gold looted from the
Jewish people during that period and to repay it all, and I don't
believe there should be a need for half the money to be spent in
The Swiss has lost any respect that I once had for them. After seeing
your program, you have ended any future thoughts I might have had about
visiting Switzerland, and I hope many other Americans will do the same.
Maybe a American boycott of Switzerland and Swiss products might be go
a long way in getting them to take action after their fifty years of
hiding the truth.
Dana Point, Ca.
I just watched the program regarding the Swiss bankers stealing the Jewish
money and believe they're common thieves. The entire Swiss population must
take some of the blame and return the moneys by the mandate. I have visited
that country many times ,however, will never have anything to do with that
nation or it's products, bank, or the red cross again.
As a regular watcher, I have never before had occasion to write you, but the June
17th show presented such bias that it cannot go unchallenged. This is pies-poor
journalism. Frontline has clearly taken an anti-Swiss position.
Frontline's bias shows up in several ways: First, the anti-Swill view is given much
more time and was accompanied by melodramatic music in the background. Second, its
not a fair fight to pit 2 media-savvy partisans (Bronfman and Singer) against an
academic scholar. Third, there is a lack of historic comparison; how much trouble
would I have looking up my grandfathers banking records at an American bank? Is it
possible, hard, or easy? Finally, there was a lot if irrelevant but provocative
video like the 2 shots of the giant siege mortar.
Conspicuously absent was any discussion of what neutrality meant under international
law circa 1939. Without such a discussion, one is left with a colloquial
understanding of the term, which is simply irrelevant here. Starting out this
section of the show with a consensus explanation of what it meant to be neutral in
the pre-war era could have been a springboard for a discussion of whether the Swiss
met these expectations.
Park Ridge, IL.
I am an American. My Grandparents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia before World
War II. I was brought up with the horrible information about the Holocaust. I
thought I was always better informed about the Holocaust than my non-ethnic fellow
I find it appalling to learn of the terrible things that Switzerland had done to aid
and abet the Nazi regime. I feel that the United States should bring its power and
influence to bear to aid the Holocaust survivors to reclaim the full value of their
savings stolen by Swiss bankers.
Switzerland should be denounced by the United States and the United Nations.
Benedict S. Ollo, Jr.
Color me cynical, but such a liberal tolerance of these so-called neutral entities
reeks of complicity at high bureaucratic levels within the allied ranks. Is it
plausible that the allies had such superior intelligence resources, but knew little
of the collaboration of neutral nations completely undermining their efforts to
My grandfather died over 10 years ago but did tell me
of his life in Germany during Nazi rule. There were
some things he was very proud of, others he faked being
proud of and some he kept secret. When he died he took
with him many secrets, but he did tell me of one incident.
You see he was an Engineer, driving the big steam trains
that did the transporting of materials to the front line
troops. During the Winter of 1943/44, after he had
numerous trains blown out from below him on the Russian
Front, he was transferred to duty transport into Italy.
He told me of one incident where he was taking a human train
load back to Germany through Switzerland. In Switzerland he
attempted to abandon the wagons at the station. He was "detained"
by the Swiss, put back on his train, and their Engineer drove
he train to the border with Germany. They released him at the
border to drive the train on. He did this three children and a
wife at home. He requested and was reassigned to the Russian Front.
He told me that if the moral Swiss would do this knowing the outcome,
then no one can condemn the Germans, for having voted Hitler into power
not knowing what the outcome would be. Starving, beaten people who
seek help from a silver tongued devil are innocent when compared to moral
zealots that protect themselves for love of money.
Your piece on Swiss money laundering for the
Nazi's had quite an impact. I think that the
Swiss were despicable coward's who, even now,
cannot or will not realize the enormously far
reaching effects of the war time policies
they chose to adopt. The horror that became
reality for so many could have been prevented
had it not been for Swiss greed and spineless
-ness. Let us know from time to time what is
happening with the situation. I would think
that in this modern world economy that there
could easily be enough pressure generated to
force the Swiss to compensate their "victims"
for, not only actual financial losses, but also
the enormous potential that they destroyed.
St. Louis, MO
I've read about this bit of history in the newspaper, but seeing on the air made an
even stronger impact on me. Bastards, let them look at their myths and let their
population investigate this atrocity!
I was intrigued by one interview I caught the end of--about the trains going through
Switzerland. What was that point--the Jews, prisoners, yes--was this to prove they
were not neutral after all? I was sickened by the fact the Nazis were supplied
with the actual weapons from the Swiss.
Let them pay--because it is the ultimate treachary!
Santa Monica, CA