Press Reactions

From Chicago Tribune By Steve Johnson "One of the most compelling current stories has its roots in events of five and six decades earlier: the soul-searing debate over the questions of Swiss complicity in the Nazi regime's killing and looting of its victims.

With typical timeliness, PBS' vigorous FRONTLINE documentary series examines the issue...echoing and adding to the chorus of doubts that previous reports have raised about World War II and Switzerland's reputation for neutrality."

"...The documentary raises anew charges that Switzerland allowed German train cars full of Jews bound for death camps to travel through the country--charges Borer also denies."

"The film's taking-off point is the efforts of Edgar Bronfman, the Seagram's liquor heir and president of the World Jewish Congress, who two years ago began efforts to try to recover Jewish money that had been deposited in Swiss banks before the war and had seemingly disappeared afterward."

From San Diego-Union Tribune By Robert P. Laurence "While much of the story has been reported piecemeal in the last few months, Nazi Gold a co-production by FRONTLINE and the BBC, wraps it in a single, coherent package and adds historical perspective and new details."

"...Skilled in the editing of film for maximum impact, Olgiati alternates historical black-and-white film of Hitler and emaciated bodies in Nazi death camps with modern, color shots of snow-covered Swiss mountains and picturesque villages. Most haunting in the context of the film's subject is a single shot of a peaceful; idyllic Swiss meadow, partially covered by snow, seen through barbed-wire fence."

From New York Times By Walter Goodman "Nazi Gold will do nothing to shine up Switzerland's image, much tarnished in the past year by allegations that money deposited in its banks in the 1930's by Europe's threatened Jews has vanished. A lawyer who is suing the Swiss Government on behalf of Jewish survivors and the families of those who did not survive says drily, 'It was the only safe place to put money.'

"...More than half a century after the war, documents are few and memories cannot be confirmed. Although tonight's wartime photographs make their own case against the Swiss, they are evidence mainly of the producers' skill in putting together a strong documentary. So some of the charges advanced here seem shaky, while others are only too plausible and along with the recent revelations do little credit to the Swiss notion of neutrality."

"...Nazi Gold ends another strong FRONTLINE season on a typically timely note."

From The Boston Globe By Michael Blowen "The question of whether Switzerland was truly neutral during World War II is vividly answered in the latest FRONTLINE special Nazi Gold"

"...While this FRONTLINE lacks the news-breaking value of other programs in the series, it does humanize the story of theft, deceit, and murder."

"...Beyond the story of the suit, Nazi Gold documents Swiss collusion with the Nazis in arms production. FRONTLINE makes its point clear--under the guise of neutrality, the Swiss, out of fear of invasion, conspired with the Germans, and Swiss neutrality was a myth."

From New York Daily News By David Bianculli "The season's final installment of the PBS series FRONTLINE tonight's Nazi Gold, could best be described as a work in progress. It tackles the subject of possible Swiss complicity in Nazi war crimes, but doesn't deliver a verdict.

Technically, that's because the class-action suit filed by families of war survivors against Swiss banks still is pending. Practically, it's because any challenge to the long-held notion of Swiss neutrality is met with lots of resistance, and very little evidentiary support."

"Some of these allegations are backed only by testimony from witnesses and family survivors; others are being pursued and proven in the courts. The highlight of Nazi Gold comes when one Swiss bank official is confronted with proof about the existence of one wartime account. The official confirms that it existed and that one tiny withdrawal was made from it by a business partner--but that's it."

"...Nazi Gold ... takes quite a few steps in the right direction."

From Denver Rocky Mountain News By Dusty Saunders "The Swiss banking story has made the nightly newscast in recent months. But this heavily documented FRONTLINE report is the first in-depth television coverage.

The documentary, in typical FRONTLINE style, doesn't skirt the issues regarding Switzerland's relationship to Nazi Germany and her financial actions against the Jews."

"...In addition to the Swiss financial wheelings-and-dealings, perhaps the most riveting segments of Nazi Gold deal with the internal political events that allowed Switzerland's border police to turn fleeing Jews away and into the hands of the Gestapo."

From San Jose Mercury News By Ron Miller "Nazi Gold the FRONTLINE season finale, provides a close examination of Switzerland's role in the theft of Jewish savings, but also goes well beyond that, indicating that the Swiss played a much greater role in the rise of Nazi Germany than previously recognized. "

"...The film provides a number of chilling accounts of how Jews were robbed and their savings sent to Switzerland for deposit. "

"...Still, tonight's film presents some evidence that Switzerland profited enormously as a nation by allowing German businessmen to travel in and out of the country without interference and by helping the Nazi regime convert gold stolen from Jews and from the banks of conquered nations into convertible funds."

From Boston Herald By Daniel M. Kimmel "The documentary examines how Germany acquired hard currency in Switzerland in exchange for looted gold, some of which was literally pulled from the teeth of their victims. The head of the Nazi State Bank said the German economy would collapse within two months without the help of the Swiss.

In the show, some of the people interviewed admit the country made a wrong turn, but others continue to rationalize or explain away these problems.

'The Swiss bitterly resent that foreigners are calling their history into question,' said Olgiati.

With Nazi Gold , Olgiati does more than question--he finds answers that demonstrate that this fresh examination of this chapter of history is long overdue."

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