Switzerland: Neutral or Cowardly?

Announcer: Mr. Ziegler, the argument that is often heard, is "The Banque Nationale bought more from, or made more business with the Allies than the Germans," and that in the long run, one cancels the other. What is your reaction?

Mr. Z.: This is grotesque. First, Sir, I respect you greatly, but your statement is false. When the Swiss delegation, in March of 1946, arrived in Washington, the American press was extremely vocal in its accusations against Hitler's accomplices. One of the most often used arguments is that "You received goods from Hitler, you helped prolong the war."

When I published my book[inaudible interruption from the audience and announcer saying "Please."] when I published my book, allow me to speak, there was on the one hand the Neue Zurich Zeitung that said "this thesis is completely absurd" and on the other the Echo de Lausanne that in its second edition stated "Finally, if Hitler is heating up some old arguments, the Americans already said it."

Announcer: Mr. Ziegler, can we omit the self-justification in your book? There was that basic question or argument that is often stated: "in the long run, the Banque Nationale did more business with the Allies than the Germans."

Mr. Z.: At the time, technically, the Gold Standard was applied everywhere. That is gold was the measure [inaudible]. The Banque Nationale before the war, had stored, as a preventive measure, some of its gold stores abroad, in the United States mainly. It always maintained relations with the central banks in London, the Federal Research Bank in the US, etc. This is obvious. But where is the problem? The problem is that they abetted a gangster, a gangster that is the crime.

Announcer: Mr. Claude Frey wishes to say something. Mr. Claude Frey National Councilor [inaudible].

Mr. F.: Yes. I wish to speak because we cannot allow Mr. Ziegler to speak in this outrageous manner. [Applause] And he knows very well that the more outrageous it is the more likely it will be remembered. I have a solution: to get to the truth, since we all want it, the Swiss must revive the International Commission on Gold Market Studies. In such a way that this question will be studied as it should, that is on a large, international scale that can place it in its context. Which would also allow us to give a real answer to Mr. Ziegler.

Announcer: All right. Mr. Yousef Cassis, briefly, and then we will move to the next topic.

Mr. C.: I do not understand what is so shocking about the Banque's activities prolonging the war effort. It is obvious, it cannot be any different. We have repeated that all the facts were known in the last 10, 15 or 20 years. We know, and there is no embarrassment, that the Swiss economy worked for Germany. This is clear, but this is what neutrality meant. As I just mentioned, there are neutral parties. And the problem, for combatants, particularly for England and the United States, was: "How to get the neutral parties to work the least for Germany? Obviously, the question resides in how far. This requires further analysis. Here, we do not know. Perhaps here you go too far. We cannot know just how much Switzerland helped prolong the war, one day one monthbut to deny that

Announcer: Mr. Cassis, I am stopping you because it is obviously not this evening that we will resolve this issue.

Mr. C.: No not this evening, but we must remember: we should not be appalled when we hear the war was prolonged

Announcer: Please, we must move forward. You did mention the larger question of business. It is our next topic. Business with Germany, mainly during the war, and mainly, of course, the export of arms, war material to the Reich. A little reminder, again of this controversy.


Music Since June 1940, when it was surrounded by the Axis, Switzerland managed to continue transacting business with the Allies. But it did more business with Germany and Italy than England and the United States. Four times more. Regarding war material, Switzerland also exported almost four times more to Germany and Italy than to the Allies...................


Announcer: I now address the historians, and to Sophie Pavillion first. We have often heard this from our callers, and it is true: "We did a lot of business with the Germans, we sent arms to Germany, but we could not do otherwise. We had to work, we had to eat, we needed the German coal, we had to live." This question may be simple or complex, could we have done otherwise?

Ms. P.: Let's say, I would like to answer in two parts. Regarding executives in Switzerland..It is obvious that it was important for the Swiss people to have work in those factories. It was even more important because of the unemployment rate after the recessions of the 20's and 30's, and because in 1936, when the Swiss army began to rearm, and especially when the country was exporting weapons to countries preparing for war. Therefore, after suffering a great deal from the recession, and from unemployment, at a time when there was no insurance, no recourse, it was very important to work.

As for executives, the question is slightly different. Contracts were negotiated in the same manner as they are now, that is, when there is work, people are hired; when there is no work, people are fired. At that time, these executives received many orders from the exterior and they began work. The second part, which deserves further and serious research in Swiss history, given its importance, is the presence of Swiss factories in Germany. In Switzerland these factories employed the Swiss, but in Germany they employed Germans at first. However, during the war, in 1942 and even earlier, they employed forced labor, they used and exploited forced labor brought by the Germans from the East. At that point, they were factories working massively for the German war machine and that exploited the cheapest man-power available. Let us say, that at that point, the humanitarian objectives of Swiss business were completely outside of reality.

Announcer: I would like to ask Mr. Pernoud. Was this commerce with Germany important, especially to employ the Swiss? Or was it important because of what could be exchanged with Germany? What was most important?

Mr. P.: I would like to touch again on the matter of what the Swiss knew. Regarding the Dixie example, previously mentioned, I must say that, on one hand, there was censorship, the press was controlled and economic news were published in the business journals of that time. This may explain some problems. Also, regarding the Dixie case, since it was at the French-Swiss border. I have here a report from Commander Norel, addressed to General Guisan, dated May 1941, which states that the situation among the troops is that the soldiers feel a contradiction between being ready to fight the Germans on the other side of the border and knowing that behind them, companies are making bombs for the Germans. We see that this contradiction was resolved in the summer of 1940 by the Federal Council who, at Germany's request, granted this massive credit that totaled by war's end more than a billion Swiss Francs, the same credit that allowed the export of merchandise useful to the German war machine.

Announcer: On this subject, Mr. Chevallaz, can we say how useful the Swiss industry was to the German war machine? Can we give numbers?

Mr. J.: I think we must give some numbers to show that Switzerland did not completely sell itself to Germany and become member of the Axis. In truth, the country chose neutrality. In 1940, upon the French defeat, was the country to change its approach? Would it become an ally of Germany? It chose to remain neutral, and to guarantee this neutrality, it obtained --via extremely difficult and severe discussion with Germanythe right to maintain its overseas business, with the Anglo-Americans, in spite of being completely surrounded by Axis forces. Historically, Germany has always been our most important economic partner: in 1990, 90% of imports came from Germany and 22% of our exports go to that country. The numbers for a short period during the war, 1939-1940 to 1944, are 31% of imports from Germany, an important number, and only 34% of exports going to Germany.

Announcer: Mr. Chevallaz, if you allow me. There is something odd: it is true that we have always had a business relationship with Germany, but pressure from Germany did lead to the fact that war materiel produced in Switzerland for Germany, was not paid by the Germans, but by the Swiss government to Swiss businesses. In fact debt increased to more than a billion, and Switzerland directly financed in this manner the German war effort.

Mr. J.: This is true, it leant money, which helped supply Germany with weapons. But this also must be said. In April of 1939, the Federal Council had decided based on its experience during the First World War, that exporting materiel would be forbidden to States in a state of war. In other words, it would have been impossible to export to Germany, or England, or France. However, when war was declared, the French and English governments intervened and forcefully requested saying that "We have placed orders to you, we expect their delivery. We request that this ban on arms exports be lifted." Many financial establishments made similar requests in order to employ their workers.

Announcer: Mr. Waily has something to say.

Announcer: Yes, yes. Right away. But first Ms. Sophie Pavillion will answer Mr. Joualat and then Mr. Waily will speak.

Ms. P.: I completely agree with Mr. Chavallaz regarding the lengthy history of relations shared by Switzerland and Germany. However, regarding Swiss companies present in Switzerland, exporting to Germany, or to the Allies, and present in Germany, if you observe what they did in Germany at a later date, that is 1936 to 1940, is this: either changing clients, or changing clients and production. When you a see Georg Fisher who produced malleable connectors until 1936, and then started to make bombs, you don't have just a company that survived the war. What you have is a company that adapted to the market in the best way possible.

Another example, and I will end with this one. The Maggi company, of which 96.36% is Swiss owned. Maggi occupied half the German market with soups and other seasonings during the 30's. You can't say that it had financial difficulties. But what it did in 1938-1939 was to place Najzis in executive positions and to increase its market share under the Wehrmacht. It changed clients. And this is an important, a serious contribution, albeit a dubious one in my opinion, by Swiss companies in Germany.

Announcer: So, Mr. Waily, let's keep this and return later to intervention.

Mr. W.: Let's not forget that Switzerland's vocation is exporting. Switzerland cannot exist be it yesterday, today or tomorrowwithout exporting. And today, Swiss exports continue going to countries that may one day give us pause.

Announcer: And we will be here in 50 years, with another broadcast.

Ms. P. They did not export! They were inside Germany! They are exporting companies present in Germany.

Announcer: We understand, we understandSoMr. Waily?

Mr. W.: Mr. Chevallaz is right. Like the British, the Swiss decided in April 1939, not to export war materiel. Under pressure from the Allies, the Federal Council reversed its decision in September-October. Unfortunately, most of the war materiel sold by Switzerland to combatants was in favor of the Germans. The question asked, is why did the federal government encourage these exports with credits, for if I remember correctly, this was no part of the request made to the Federal Council during September and October of 1939. In fact, the important question concerns credits granted for these exports as of 1942-1943.

Announcer: Mr. Waily, continue speaking since you are a specialist on war exchanges between Switzerland and the Allies, mainly the United Kingdom. What you told me on the telephone, and what I would like you to explain now, is that Switzerland's contribution during the war for the United Kingdom was greater than it is generally believed. Can you explain this?

Mr. W.: Yes, the story is a little ambiguous. During the first half of your war between September, 1939 and June, 1940, most of the war materiel was sent to the Allies and not to Germany. Unfortunately, most of it was sent to France instead of England and was therefore lost to the Allies when France fell in 1940. After which there were certain conveyance operations, and during all of the war, approximately four million pounds of war materiel left Switzerland through different enterprises, mainly scientific equipment, watches, etc.

Announcer: Can we say that some of the merchandise secretly or discreetly taken out from Switzerland to Great Britain was for ideological reasons, to help the Allies.

Mr. W.: When different individual enterprises are considered, some of them were targeted and attached by the Allies; their name was on the list of companies unable to export. Later on, these companies were still on the list and carried the Allies' favor by sending certain products in different ways. I am convinced was ideological preferences; most Swiss were in favor of the Allies during the war. However, I also think there were commercial reasons, given that these companies wished to defend their market share overseas, if not during the war, at least after.

Announcer: To finish with this debate, a question for Mr. Chevallaz, asked by Mr. Waily, in negotiating these credits, these exchange operations, Germany always asked for more. At first, Switzerland was reticent, but later accepted Germany's demands and granted larger credit lines. Can we say then that Switzerland could have acted otherwise, since in this case it really encouraged German power by giving it the means to purchase our products.

Mr. J.: I think you do not understand the situation in Switzerland as of May 1940. We were completely surrounded by the military threat of the Axis forces. We had to see to the survival of the country, in terms of supplies, which could come from overseas, and in terms of giving employment to the population. Concessions were inevitable, and yes a credit of more than one billion was granted to Germany. I'd like to specify that the arms provided to the Wehrmacht are not as many as it is said. Our numbers, confirmed by German sources, indicate that Confederation supplies totaled 0.3 to 0.6 % of the entire German war production. A negligible quantity in the German military budget.

Announcer: I'd like to hear from Mr. Pernoud, concerning this credit.

Mr. P.: Regarding the exportation of arms, during the Second World War, one must study the different phases. If the first phase benefited the Allies, it is because they had the means. Germany could not benefit given its level of debt. It is clear that, after the fall of France, the Federal Confederation's economic and financial delegation met with the most important businessmen in the country to discuss this issue of credit. It is the President of the Confederation who insists on granting credit for millions because, among other things, he knew the limits of the country's defense currently under reorganization. This meant ignoring any of the previously expressed hesitations, or any previous concerns following requests for much lower lines of credit.

Announcer: The argument was then made, Mr. Pernoud, for the safety of the nation?

Mr. P. Exactly, Pilet-Golaz was very clear, let's not argue about a million or two, Germany and Italy are asking for currency and Switzerland must provide them.

Announcer: Mr. Gebry, is it possible today to consider the safety argument as a valid one at that time?

Mr. G.: The problem is that saying that the country needed to be employed, and that this was a key point, is not a valid argument for the following reason: the Swiss army was notoriously ill-equipped. It had no bombs, canons, machine guns, heavy machinery, etc. Why is it that in 1939, 1940 and 1941, neither the Confederation nor the leadership placed any orders for weapons from those same companies, in order to strengthen the military AND give employ the population? That is the real question.

Mr. J.: I will answer this: The Confederation did not weaken its military by exporting its weapons to Germany. On the contrary, while it furnished to Germany armament worth one billion three hundred million, it spent two billion and one hundred forty million on national defense. And this was done with the metal and coal imported from Germany. In other words, the Germans helped reinforce the Swiss national defense.

Announcer: Sophie Pavilion, quickly, and we will then finish this debate.

Ms. P.: I would like to add a remark to the numbers quoted by Mr. Chevallaz. 0.5% of Swiss armament exports went to Germany, however the Claudius documents, mentioned by Mr. Ziegler, states that this 0.5% included essential weaponry: materiel the Germans could not do without, could find elsewhere with great difficulty, given that their factories were bombed and the Swiss ones were not.

Announcer. So. Here as with other topics, we can see that the controversy amid historians will continue. We will make available other publications than those mentioned tonight to our audience if they are interested.

Mr. X.: A 70% tax was established for war benefits, in Switzerland, in 1940, with as a reference, the last imposed benefit being in 1938. That is, what the factories earned working for Germany represented higher tax contributions.

Announcer. All right. We will now broach the third topic for this evening. Perhaps the most emotional one. It concerns Switzerland's policy regarding refugees, especially Jewish refugees. Here is a visual reminder of the topics we will discuss.


Music Twenty two thousand Jewish refugees came to Switzerland. However, between 30 and 40 thousand others, according to the latest figures, were denied entry, and the majority of them ended at the death camps. The issue was clear for Heinrich Rotmund, chief of police for aliens, the "enjewishment" of the country was to be avoided. It was Switzerland who stamped the letter J on Jewish German passports. It is only toward the end of the war, when there was no doubt as to how the war would end, that Switzerland opened its doors.

Was the boat full? Was Switzerland's survival threatened by too many refugees? Were the Jews discriminated against compared with other refugees? Was Rotmund's anti-Semitism shared by the authorities, by the population. Were those who fought to help refugees enter, the lonely heroes? Did we know that by denying entrance to Jew we were sending them to almost certain death?


Announcer: Well then, those heroes, lonely or not. There were many callers wishing to speak of the work they did then. That is what two of our guests will do tonight. First, Mr. Henry Spirat would like to speak of his father. Mr. Spirat we are listening.

Mr. S.: My father was a leader in Porentrui, and tried to oppose Rotmund's policies, who opposed the arrival of Jews. My father did this because he shared a religion, it was natural. What was more surprising was the help he received in the community, who were not in the least bit Jewish. They were good Catholics, good Protestants, who risked a great deal to help my father, known as the "leader of the Spirat gang." A group that included butchers, farmers, and others who were of enormous help to the Jewish refugees.

Announcer: Thank you sir. Ms. Jacqueline Lacroix wanted to mention her grandfather.

Ms. L.: During my entire childhood, my grandfather told me what happened during the war. I have learned even more in these last days. He worked for the Red Cross helping prisoners. There were entire families trying to enter Switzerland for health reasons, or for safety reasons. I believe that it is our duty tonight to honor those who risked their life to help otherswhose descendants now hear "the Swiss did this, the Swiss did that." He was not alone, there were other men and women doing the same, and I think we need to thank them this evening.

Announcer: Mr. Bloch, you are President of the Swiss Jewish Communities. Much is said these days about the Swiss, the "Justs", to use a term coined by your community. Given today's controversy, what is your reaction when you hear these tales of courage?

Mr. B.: Where to begin? Certainly by thanking those who during the war helped save human lives. Those who helped Jews fight current policies espoused by Dr. Rotmund for example. Without the courage of non-Jews, I believe that events would have been even more disastrous. You said it: this will be an emotional debate, and I cannot help feeling emotional. I have noticed this evening that our personal experience is mixed with out facts we should speak of this in the future. Personally I share this, since I was in Switzerland during the Second World War. I was aged from 10 to 15 years old, and I felt that this country was opposed to the Nazi ideology, because it was antidemocratic and against the spirit of this nation. And yet, in spite of this great anti-nazi majority, I could also feel that the population was not pro-Semitic or at least anti-anti-Semitic. They were two distinct thoughts.

Announcer: Allow me Mr. Bloch. This is my question. How much anti-Semitism was there in Switzerland? How widespread? Messieurs Lasserre and Picard, as historians, you are also interested in this topic. In short, we know that Rotmund was an anti-Semite, he was clear about it in his writings. But how far did this belief spread? How high up within the leadership, or how far within the nation? Mr. Lasserre, first?

Mr. L.: I will immediately throw the ball back by asking if people are still anti-Semitic today. Personally, I believe there are many more anti-Semites than we think. It is impossible to obtain an accurate answer because we do not know what people really think. Anti-Semitism is an extremely vague belief. It is not expressed brutally. Classic jokes are told, but when do we go from jokes, to persecution, to the refusal of treating Jews as citizens? It is very difficult to say. A joke can go wrong with so little. In my opinion, the Federal Council's policies regarding Jews and refugees in general, not just the Jews, is a policy carried out by the population, except in certain instances. There are times when the population does not follow the lead, particularly in 1942, for reasons I will explain it time will allow. In general, the Federal policy was accepted, the proof being that none of the Chambers voiced any criticism, with the exception of some State Councilors, on the right and on the left. However the Chamber did not disagree perhaps because the deputies knew the population was behind them.

Announcer: Mr. Picard, you are particularly interested in the status of Jews between 1939 and 1945, and in the question of anti-Semitism. What is your reaction?

Mr. P.: (Answers in German) I think that it is a manifestation of latent anti-Semitism. It appears in the reports we studybut I can give you some details to be more precise. For example, the files on naturalization since 1910, in certain cantons, show the seal "J" in some of the legal paperwork. As of 1925, Jewish candidates wishing to be naturalized, must be residents for a much longer period than non-Jewish candidates. In the 1930's, the Swiss Israeli Community Federation stated its concern with the Swiss practice of not accepting Jewish babies born in Swiss territory, I am speaking of second generation Swiss-Jews, born in Switzerland. In 1940 a secret memo is distributed by the Federal Administration, stating that only 12 Jewish naturalizations will be allowed per year, and only for the most deserving candidates, in terms of assets, I mean. Later, regarding refugee policies, there is a series of tragic decisions: as of 1938 the "J" is stamped on German Jewish passports. In 1942, it is said that refugees of Jewish origin cannot obtain permanent asylum, only those who are 52 or older can benefit of permanent asylum. The common denominator is that, in Switzerland, there was a concerted effort to maintain a low Jewish population, from a biological stance. This population could not multiply, Switzerland did not want more Jewish residents. This biological attitude is, in my eyes, anti-Semitism, as latent as it may be.

Announcer: The other important question is to know whether the authorities knew what fate awaited the Jews on the other side of the border. Yvette Scragen, you are a writer, a well known writer, and you researched this issued on a very personal level. At one moment, you realized you had forgotten everything and you've asked yourself what you could've known. Your work led to a book "The silent years". Explain your progress, what you found.

Ms. S.: After seeing Marcus Imhof's film "The Boat is Full", I asked myself how, since I was 20 years old during the war, could I be so utterly sincerely convinced that Switzerland did everything to help those who were in fear of their life. Ilmoff's film revealed things that I had known for some years, after the Bonjour report, the Ludwig report. However, his film was surprising, especially because he said he resented the previous generation, the generation that lied. And I asked myself, why I had lived in a world of illusion. My research was this: I used Alfred Haezler's book, "The boat is full" and the journal "La Suisse" during the years 1942 and 1943, because that is what we read at the time. I realized two things. One is that in German Switzerland, there was a moment when Von Steiger said "we can no longer accept refugees, the boat is full". It was the summer of 1942, and the reaction was very strong, famous people had spoken to Steiger, requests were made, the press had followed this closely. About all this, "La Suisse" a conservative paper which closely followed the activities of the Vichy government, to put it mildly, said very little, other than to imply that there were confidential reasons, that one had to believe Von Steiger, a wise statesman, generous, who knew what he was doing. Two, is that even "La Suisse" published alarming stories regarding the fate of the Jews in occupied territories, a million dead, Hitler was purging Europe of the Jewish race. Well, the paper "La Suisse" never did put two and two together.

Announcer: You gathered that you did not have the means to be informed.

Ms. S.: I could not on a superficial level. But had I wanted to, I could have understood that the problem was more serious and I could have gone to sources other than "La Suisse". Perhaps there was some indifference, and I am saddened by my lack of action. I was glad to hear what people said earlier, that there were people who knew and acted.

Announcer: Messieurs Lasserre and Picard, as historians, I think it is possible to pinpoint when the policy makers in Switzerland knew exactly what fate awaited the Jews. When did they know, while maintaining the same policies?

Mr. L.: In July 1942, there was a report published by a member of the Federal police, admitting that there were persecutions. However he did not speak of the final solution which was unknown to him. In spring of 1942, a little earlier, a German businessman had revealed to a Jewish group in Zurich and Geneva what was really happening, and what the final solution meant. Not just persecution of "suspects" but the will to completely destroy an entire race. When this was said, in the greatest secret, even the Jews had difficulty believing that this could be true. It was inconceivable. This may seem normal to us, since we have seen this phenomenon on several occasions. At that time, it was beyond one's imagination, such a thing could not be. However, the message shared by this German businessman was forwarded to Mr. Riegner, who lived in Geneva, to Jewish leaders in the United States I forget the name of the associationand to the American government. This government, perhaps more prudent in the past than it is now, refused to believe a single account. It was too horrible and inconceivable. More accounts were required. When the American administration had to accept this, the information was shared with the English at the end of the year. But we were then in the midst of the propaganda wars and it is impossible to believe a statement initiated by an enemy. They will wait and seeThis information, published by the Swiss press, did not necessarily convince the population. I think that is not until 1943 that there is a better understanding of events for people to see that horrible things were happening and that they were trying to eliminate a race. Again, this process cannot take place overnight.

Announcer: Mr. Bloch, when the attitude of different European nations is mentioned regarding the Jewish community, how do you appreciate the Swiss attitude in comparison to other countries?

Mr. B.: First, I do not like the term race in general, I do not think it should ever be mentioned. I believe that if Mr. Riegner did send his message to the United States and to England, he most certainly did so to the Swiss government. It was just after that the borders were closed. Therefore, compared to other countries before the war, one can say that sadly everybody closed their borders. But during the war there was no country for the Jews other than Switzerland.

Announcer: Mr. Picard, briefly, to complete what Mr. Lasserre said, can one say that the official policy in Switzerland was wrong and sent thousands of Jews to their death?

Mr. P.: I have to add that Mr. Riegner, in Geneva, communicated what he knew only in 1942 and only about eastern Europe. However, today historic research believes that neutral governments and allied governments knew more or less what was happening at the end of 1941. But this must be added, what we knew does not mean what we wanted to know. Not knowing is different than not wanting to know. From that point of view, the question must be put into perspective, it is not a matter of knowing or not knowing, but wanting to know. This is where the anti-Semitic becomes important. Anti-Semitism leads to many interpretations as to why we chose not to know. And once we knew, why we chose not to act. Knowing does not lead to action that's what happened in Switzerland in August of 1942 we are beginning to make the difference between refugees and refugees denied entrance because of their race. The consequence is that approximately 30,000 refugees were pushed back at the border. These numbers are factual and include files. But we can say that the numbers are probably higher, 40,000...50,000...60,000 people were perhaps sent to certain death.

Announcer: You say we did not want to know or we did not want to act. Yet another question for historians.

Announcer: To finish this historic debate, we would like the opinion of Jean-Francois Bergier, President of the Historic Commission established by the federal counsel. Mr. Bergier could not be here tonight but granted an interview to Anne Markwander.


Music

Journalist: According to you what topics are still in the dark?

B: There are some points, perhaps not in the dark, but at least in the shadows: we have often spoken these last few days, following Eisenstat's report, of the Nazi gold. The quantity does not need to be stated, since it is already known, and has been known for some time. However one should speak of the Banque Nationale's motivation, why it did business until the last minute, for reasons that are not clear. There is the problem, more delicate and tragic, of the refugees. Why and how many refugees were denied entry at the border, how did this happen, at the time. There are still some areas that remain in the shadows. There are the issues surrounding the financial and commercial relations maintained by Switzerland and Germany, and with other countries such as the Allies and other neutral countries. We know that Switzerland bought more gold from the Americans than from the Germans, in exchange for currency. No one knew exactly what the Americans did with the currency; they certainly used it for their war effort, which in a way, counter balances what we furnished to the Germans. A parallel of these two operations would be very interesting.


Announcer: So, last topic for the evening. The image of Switzerland and the world following the controversies we've discussed and that are stirring the country for some months now. Here is Washington, Mr. Sanger is joining us; you are a correspondent at the New York Times, and according to your paper, the Clinton administration is considering economic sanctions against Switzerland, freezing Swiss assets for example. Where are we? Is this a real threat?

Mr. S.: I do not think we said that the administration was considering these sanctions. What we have said is that when Mr. Eisenstat submitted his report he hoped that Switzerland and other neutral countries would consider such a situation, he leaves open all the options. We insisted to know what he met; what we left open was the question was whether the Washington Agreements would be renegotiated. These agreements signed in 1946 discussed the assets obtained by Switzerland at the end of the war had to be returned. The question was not whether the United States would establish economic sanctions, or threatened to do so. We are not at that stage.

Announcer: I also would like to speak in New York to Mr. Edward Fagan. You are one of the attorneys that filed a class suit against the great Swiss banks concerning inherited funds. If you read the American press, after the Eisenstat report, you get the feeling that being Swiss in the United States is not a good thing. Why is there actually so much dislike between the United States and Switzerland?

Mr. F.: Your ambassador, Mr. Thomas Borer, has often asked us to rate Switzerland based on the present and not the past. And that is exactly what the American people are doing: we are judging the government and the banks based on the present day attitude. And what are they doing today, they refuse to admit the terrible things they did in the past. And they refuse to act accordingly.

Announcer: Refusing to act? There have been some actions started. But you and the United States we would like you to hear how we feel regarding you're stance. Here is Ms. C. There you are, what would you like to say to the Americans?

Ms. C.: I want to say first that I was born in the United States and that I spend the war there. As a child there, I experienced the anti-Semitism of New Yorkers against the Jews of New York. I have see the American's racism against blacks. One can say, generally speaking, that it was fashionable then. I have also seen that the Americans taken private assets, because when my parents returned to Switzerland could not bring their money with them since it was frozen by the Americans who often resolved estates by freezing private assets. When I returned to Switzerland, I found a country that was capable of self criticism, where as America raised us to believe that it was the most wonderful country in the world, a country ruled by freedom and democracy, God's own country. And that gives Americans the right, like the man we just heard, to judge others and to think that the world judges like the Americans.

It is time for the Americans to be self-critical. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. This is the time to ask of the American holocaust was necessary, if they really had to drop an atomic bomb in Japan. If they really had to drop napalm and agent orange, if they really had to bomb the civilian populations of Iraq, if they really should not keep their word and their international obligations, respect their treaties with the native Americans, and pay their fees to United Nations. (applause)

Announcer: Members of the panel and the United States, I must tell you that this argument is often repeated when we prepared this program. Are you aware of the Swiss reaction and how surprised they feel by your attacks? Is America free of any fault, Mr. Fagan?

Mr. F.: First, I want to tell the Swiss people what I have said twice before when I was in their country traveling with some of the claimants. We find no fault with the Swiss people. Those that filed a claim with the banks have private claims with specific banks. We are not attacking the Swiss nation. What would the Swiss say if their money was stolen and could not be recovered because of an American bank or any other bank? They would be furious. We know that beyond the funds in Switzerland there are tons of gold in the US, the United Kingdom, and France. We know that actions must be taken. This is not a war against the Swiss. It's a difficult situation. We feel very sympathetic for the Swiss and regret such a responsibility. It is not for the people to be responsible.

Announcer: Thank you Mr. Fagan. The same question to the NY Times correspondent. You heard the Swiss woman speak. Her opinion is shared by many. She returns the ball in your court saying "Who are you to speak to us in such a way?"

Mr. S.: I heard what she said, unfortunately I did not hear Mr. Fagan in New York. I will try to give you a quick answer. What she said was that Americans were taking on the role of enforcer and criticized other countries instead of criticizing itself. We could discuss this for a long time. What is important is that Switzerland, after seeing this report, has examined its situation. In fact the Eisenstat report was presented in the United States as a critique of the American government, that is, Truman's government and its attitude in 1946, as well as all the agreements signed in the 50s, since it led to the Cold War. When you read the entire report, you can see that it is very critical of the United States. During all the discussions I have followed, I get the feeling that American criticism of Switzerland during the war is getting confused with Switzerland after the war. I think the majority of Americans who know this situation understand that Switzerland was surrounded, understand too certain neutrality principle, even if not in the same manner. The critics heard today, in the United States, are concerned with Swiss activities after 1946. Why were the Washington agreements not respected? Why weren't 50 % of non gold assets cashed and deposited in the account mentioned in the agreement? There is a lot of criticism, in the United States, concerning banks and how they received Holocaust victims, how they did not help them in their search in any way. The criticism I hear here concerns these events. And these are legitimate questions.

Announcer: Regarding Ms. C's remark, you reacted quite violently, Mr. Janner, when she spoke about the Americans.

Mr. J.: I think that what she said was magnificent. An extraordinary example that shows why the good Swiss reputation has been affected everywhere else. I cannot understand why so many Swiss are on the defensive, when we are speaking of actions their government took 50 years ago. I am only too happy to get rid of a government for something it has done today. We are speaking of a government, in Switzerland, who at that time, tried to stop Jews from entering the country, a government that insisted that it was the Germans who used the J stamp on the passports, so that they could not enter and would effectively be sent to a death camp. It was a government that built prosperity in Switzerland, rightly or wrongly, and I can understand how, based on gold stolen by the Nazis. All we are asking now, is for you to recognize your mistakes, try to ascertain the truth and make reparations. I would like to recognize Flavio Cotti, your Foreign Affairs Minister, and Arnorld Koller, your President, although this public acknowledgment may hurt them, because they are people who publicly recognized what happened and who are trying to restore the good reputation of your extraordinary and beautiful country. And I hope that they will count on the support of the Swiss people.

Announcer: I'd like to hear from Mr. Claude Borel, who wanted to ask Mr. Janner

Mr. B.: I must say that I am not Jewish, but that my wife is and that I have a daughter in Israel. You cannot accuse me of anti-Semitism. But I cannot understand why this self-proclaimed association, the World Jewish Congress, has the right to insult us without respite, with such insolence, such arroganceWhat do they think those people? Because I too can make accusations and say that Switzerland should create a commission and research their past, the integrity of Mr. Bronfman, Mr. Burg, Mr. D'AmatoWho are these insolent people? Something does not make sense We do not have to accept this exceptional tribunal, these people that have the right to insult us. When Mr. Delamurez grants them the floor, we cannot respond. This is what I wanted to say.

Announcer: Before Mr. Janner's response, someone from the audience?

Mr. V.: Very quickly, My name is Yann Vermon and I am leader of the FTMH Movement, the syndicate youth in the Juras. I am here in this capacity, because one must speak. We have heard many things about the Swiss population of that time not knowing what was happening, not until much later. But there is also a lot of confusion regarding what Switzerland is accused of. If there are still Jewish assets in our banks, whether national or private, it is only normal that they be returned and the truth must be told. But one must not forget: when the country is accused, and I am proud of this country, known world wide for being a humanitarian nation, of prolonging the war, of sending people to their deaths, it is too much! When we know how many European countries were sending the Jewish people to concentration camps and to death camps. If Switzerland followed the lesser of two evils, and if the Nazis had not obtained their commercial objective they could have very well come and taken what they needed. If this policy of the lesser of two evils enabled some lives to be said, some Swiss people to be savedwell I am sorry but you had to be there if you want to pass judgment. And I feel that the people who lived those times have not had a chance to really speak this evening. (Applause.)

Mr. J.: Well I lived through those times, and lost half of my family. I am Jewish and was a war crimes investigator in Germany after the war. And this person asks what is our right to ask for restitution and for justice? The answer is that we speak for those who are dead and cannot. I am saddened by the reaction this evening. I am saddened that expressing your opinion is tantamount to insolence and arrogance. This is not about accusing the Swiss people today, this is about accusing the Swiss government 50 years ago. I love Switzerland. I also love Great Britain and have also opposed their government. Why can you not understand that mistakes were made and that what Arnold Koller and Flavio Cotti wish to do is the fair thing, that is to show some decency, honor and justice, even after all these years?

Announcer: Mr. Janner, it's true that many of our callers, many of those who wrote in, cannot understand why today they must pay for something that happened 50 years ago. I would like to ask, to the representative of the Task Force or to the politicians of the daybecause in fact there is an effort to explain and inform the Swiss, since the Federal Council has asked for a compensation solidarity fundAccording to the Council, why must we pay today?

Mr..: There is much confusion between all the funds. Until now Switzerland has not had to pay a cent to the special Fund. This is a mechanism created by the great Swiss banks, the leaders of the Banque Nationale have announced that they were ready to pay one million and other financial circle have promised to make payments to the special Fund. The Swiss people do not have to contribute, this is a gesture of recognition

Announcer: On this subject, I would like to hear from Mr. Bloch, president of the compensation Fund. The question is this: Why must payment be made for a moral fault? This is what no one in Switzerland can understand.

Mr. B.: First of all, Switzerland as a country, does not have to pay. This regards what was deposited in the banks and that must be returned. This also regard returning what was stolen by the Nazis. Restitution must be made to the victims, to the survivors. There is no confusion about this, no argument. The Humanitarian Special Fund, is not an admission of guilt, it is a gesture to the past to say, we were not guilty but we still feel a measure of responsibility and we wish to express this feeling. Who is "we"? The economy, the banks, the Banque Nationale. The Solidarity Fund is not concerned with this issue, the solidarity fund is for the future, for future victims.

Announcer: Ms. Sandoz and Mr. De Dardelle have something to say about this. Ms. Sandoz?

Ms. S.: I concur mostly with Mr. Bloch. I wish to precise that the Fund is a fund for the future, which falls within the Swiss humanitarian tradition. It is a way to express our gratitude for the past and the future, how the country is protected. It is also a hope for the future. This has nothing to do with past events, regarding what we have discussed this evening. The Solidarity Fund comprised, as explained by the representative of the Task Force, moneys deposited by banks, by commercial enterprises. The question of what the Banque Nationale will deposit has not been resolved, regarding reparations. I do not think these are moral reparations. We cannot think that we can commit a moral anathema and then simply pay. There is no just people, there is no just State. There are States who take on their responsibilities, and who are no better and no worse than others.

Announce: Mr. Ziegler wishedoh, excuse Mr. De Dardelle first.

MD. de D.: There is a great deal of confusion, obviously expressed during this broadcast, because there are many who feel that these are attacks addressed against the Swiss. This is a complete mistake. The attacks are addressed against the Swiss government, banks and industries. These are a group of people, financial and political leaders during the war, who share responsibility. The Swiss people were mostly unaware. The word censorship was mentioned, this was a real and important fact. Democracy was blocked, there was no chance for a democratic reaction. It is a minority that is being criticized. If payment must be made it must come mainly from the banks, the Banque Nationale. Stolen money, money stolen from the States, cannot stay in those accounts. It is a financial debt. The problem of inherited accounts is not resolved. We've been discussing these for years. The Volker Commission is experiencing great difficulties in its search for the truth. There to the responsibility is strictly financial.

Announcer: Excuse me Mr. Ziegler, we are about to lose our connection to the United States and I wish to ask something to our American guests. Mr. Sanger, what do you think Switzerland should do at this point, to change the tone and tenure of our discussions with the United States? Is this about the compensation Fund? The Solidarity Fund? The negotiations that led to the Washington agreement? What would the Americans see as a sing that Switzerland is coming around to your point of view?

Mr. S.: I cannot give you any advice, but we can differentiate several different efforts. On the one hand the Solidarity Fund, the basis efforts, the funds contributed by the banksI think the United States see this as a step in the right direction. In speaking with several American representatives, it is thought that the sum of the contributions does not match the value of all the assets held in Switzerland since the end of the war. I think that, other than this fund, there is an accounting issue. This must be addressed by the central bank and by the government. This concerns funds still held in banks today, inherited accounts and deposited gold. One wonder if the Swiss banks should not be asked to keep the agreements signed in 1946.

Announcer: Another question for Mr. Fagan in New York. The Volcker Commission, established by the World Jewish Congress, and the Swiss banks are at work on the inherited accounts. You are representing clients in this matter. Do you expect something from this Commission? Will you respect its conclusions?

Mr. F.: The Volker Commission has made a voluntary agreement, its conclusions are not compulsory, not even regarding Swiss banks. We wish to resolve this simply, that is that banks should be under the obligation, subject to the courts in New York or in Switzerland, of opening their books, their registers, so that we may ascertain how much money was deposited between 1933 and 1945. All we have to do is to open the archives and be honest. If the banks refuse. We will continue to file claims against these banks. Not the Swiss government, not the Swiss people, the banks.

Announcer: Thank you, Mr. Ziegler?

Mr. Z.: I completely agree with Mr. De Dardelle, it is obvious that the fortunes stolen from the Jews must be returned. To do this, it is necessary to support this Fund created for the help and assistance of the survivors of the Shoah. There are 300 000 Holocaust survivors, who are not doing well and who must be paid. On the other hand, I am completely against the Solidarity Fund. If the Banque Nationale wishes to reevaluate its gold stock, liberate 7 billion francs, Switzerland will be faced with an enormous task. Unemployment, maternal insurance

Announcer: Mr. Ziegler, we will discuss all this next year, when we will vote I believe we should stay on the subject at hand. Claude Frey?

Mr. F.: There is some concern for Switzerland's image. I've just returned from the United States. Confusion reigns supreme over there. It is important for our image to clarify the differences between the compensation Fund and the solidarity Fund, which has nothing to do with today's debate and which should not be discussed at this time. We all agree that there are still funds that belong to descendants of Jewish families. They must be returned. The truth must be revealed. This is important. The other thing, and I want to be clear on this, is that the Washington Agreement should not be renegotiated. We must be firm on this. (Applause.) They were signed, they were enacted, we cannot go back. Finally, Mr. Janner said earlier that we were on the defensive. Not at all. What we must do, as that lady did, is defend the dignity of the country. And it is not admissible to allow acrobats like D'Amato and Ziegler to rewrite history. (Shouts and applause.)

Announcer: Joelle Kuntze, Deputy Editor in Chief of the Nouveau Quotidien, about this image of Switzerland?

Ms. K.: Again we speak of image, when our concern should be for our relations with other countries. I am afraid we've forgotten to mention this. I believe this debate to be very important,. Until now we made history alone, our little history was pleasant, we were good, we were just. We realize that there are some problems, something else is being askedto admit that we were not as innocent as we believed, that we have done our share of misdeeds, during that terrible war time. We must admit that we have a simple debt, and financial debt. I am stunned to hear that we refuse to pay survivors any amount no within the accounts they held here. We must pay because of the great drama of this century, the Jewish refugees, we were participants in this tragedy. And we have a debt to the survivors just like the French, the American and of course the Germans. The organizations helping survivors have no more money, and yet the survivors have real needs. Why does Switzerland not speak of this?

Announcer: Thank you Joelle. Philippe Motat also wishes to speak. Philippe who lived in the US for a long time.

Mr. M.: I agree with most of what Joelle said, and I will go further. We should not be discussing Switzerland's image, but its interests. Just as we asked ourselves 50 years ago, were the policies established in the interest of the country? Regarding present day attacks against Switzerland, which are undeniable, I think they would be the same if d'Amato were not the president of the Banking Committee. The moment has come to revise the story. And this because the Cold War ended, the Iron Curtain that cut Europe also cut this discussion. As soon as the historians spoke: "we knew it and nothing happened." We know today because the economic scale is very different. Remember that, and I think Elie Wiesel said this to Steven Spielberg: "For forty years I have written about the Shoah and nothing happened, and you make a movie, Shindler's list, and all of a sudden this become part of popular culture." Never again can we bury this controversy. Today we want disclosure, a strong democracy, such as the one underscored by Stuart Eisenstat, also means: "Let's assume the risks that disclosure entails."

Announcer: Mr. Roth?

Mr. E.: I'd like to continue in this direction. We have chosen disclosure. As Mr. Janner said, we have taken, at a government level, some very important decisions. Parliament has established a commission, the banks have done the same. We have created a Fund to help Shoah survivors. We must now work on this premise. We need time. We need to revise history, conclusions will require time. That's what we need now, time to think.

Announcer: I'd like to hear from a guest who has not yet spoken. Mr. Zopety, film director, of Swiss origin but living in Japan, working for a Japanese TV station. He is here working on a documentary about this controversy. Japan has not been mentioned much. Are the Japanese interested by this story? Do they follow what is happening in Switzerland at the moment?

Mr. Z.: Since we are speaking of images, I must say that an image is not something to be pursued by a country. Japan too is always concerned by its image. It was the Eisenstat report that brought to light in Japan the latest news about Switzerland. I believe there is no other country in which the Swiss image has suffered more than in Japan.

The Japanese people from after the war, who have suffered for the last 50 years due to its role during the war, as aggressor and victim, whose past is heavy and serious, have always regarded Switzerland as a nation of hope and peace, a promise of a better world. A country with an image of neutrality and peace. Suddenly the Eisenstat report destroys this belief. During our stay in Switzerland, I have seen the violent and emotional arguments between Switzerland and the United States. Since we speak of image and of international media relations, it is not in participating in the fray, that Switzerland will improve its image. From the point of view of the international media, the most important question facing Switzerland is the concept of Swiss military neutrality that did not match the political and economical neutrality. This matter is filled with gray areas and the banks and the government must provide some answers.

Announcer: The last word for Mr. Bloch. And then we will finish

Mr. B.: I would like to make a plea. Let us not worry solely about our image abroad, let us begin a dialogue in Switzerland.

Announcer: Thank you Mr. Bloch, that is the last word. Your questions were numerous, we could not hear them all. Historic commissions continue their research. If you are interested in this important period of Swiss history, we have made a list of books available in libraries, published since the early 90's. This list is available if you write to us .We also have an Internet page with a list of 200 publications, more specialized in the subject of Switzerland and the war.

Announcer: Thank you and a good evening to you all.

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