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Trustees of the Reich

Chapter 3: Blocked by official authorities

Swiss people abroad only getting diplomatic support when this was pleasing to the Nazi members of government in Berne - example ambassador Frölicher -- the invention of the J stamp against "Verjudung" of Switzerland -- fortunes of Swiss Jews in France in 1940 - National Bank of Switzerland blocking transfers -- diplomatic representations for 43 states in 35 countries: example of Argentina

Translation by Michael Palomino (2013)

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from: Peter Balzli: Treuhänder des Reichs. Eine Spurensuche. Werd-Verlag, Zürich 1997

* Names with a * are changed by the author protecting the personality (p.15)

<Blocked by official authorities

Diplomats or bankers of the National Bank, nobody wants to support Jewish interests of fortunes. Instead of this there is sabotage and denunciation.

[Swiss people abroad only got diplomatic support when it was pleasing Swiss Nazi government - example ambassador Frölicher]

There were high obstacles, for smuggling, and for the detection of the fortunes later. When someone had smuggled fortunes to Switzerland, then there were harsh measured in Switzerland not helping the Nazi victims [which were mostly Jewish]. There was a strong resistance helping them in Switzerland [in the Swiss authorities]. And there were no exceptions. Even Jewish Swiss people abroad first living in Germany and then in the occupied territories suffering under Hitler's terrorism [well wanted by criminal Zionists for driving Jews to Palestine] these victims could not await any help from Switzerland. Above all the official offices were blocking the economic interests of their own citizens with obstacles again and again. Concerning Jewish questions Switzerland was "applying a mainstream management not following the normal principle of interests" ("eine fliessende Handhabung des von ihr sonst vertretenen Interessenprinzips"), this writes historian Jacques Picard in his book "Switzerland and the Jews 1933-1945" ("Die Schweiz und die Juden 1933-1945"). In plain terms: For not provoking the new representatives of power in Europe Swiss diplomacy was leaving the Jewish Swiss citizens abroad many times without help. According to Picard they were victims of a combination of "political weakness, cautious tactics and a mentality against the Jews".

[Swiss Nazi ambassador Hans Frölicher in Berlin - did NOT help to Swiss people in Germany - Swiss man marrying a German Jewish woman saving to Switzerland - but the fortune has to remain in Germany - suspicion of a pretended marriage]

Example number one: Mr. Hans Frölicher, the top diplomat in Berlin [Swiss ambassador in Berlin].

This Swiss ambassador - today representing collaboration of Switzerland with the Nazi regime - was among other things not listening at all to the needs in financial questions of Swiss Jews in Germany. Mr. Frölicher was deliberately not acting when urgent interventions had been needed or he was blocking everything from the beginning. Mr. Frölicher was accepting German racial laws as rules which had to be accepted [these rules mainly came from Swiss citizen Ernst Rüdin] and when these rules were not followed then Mr. Frölicher was even denouncing Swiss people. There is the case of Ida and Adolf Michel, two people who were suffering by the iron hand of Frölicher. Saving Ida Arnold from her almost sure death [p.65] the Jewish Swiss Adolf Michel with his 78 years was marrying this German Jewish woman in February 1939. Both could find a new domicile in Zurich, but almost the whole fortune was in the Reich and should be protected from the seizure of the Nazis. Even the Swiss consulate in Stuttgart was supporting this project bringing Frölicher to use his connections. But he was the wrong address.

A letter was sent to Mr. Frölicher and he was reacting on February 22, 1940 with a letter to his boss in Berne. He made a summary about this matter describing the couple as "two not Aryan persons having settled in Switzerland":

Original in German:

"Herr Michel möchte eine auf seinem Grundstück lastende und zur Rückzahlung gekündigte Schuld mittels Aufnahme einer neuen Hypothek ablösen. Ein Gesuch ist bei der Devisenstelle Stuttgart hängig, doch es ist vorauszusehen, dass es abgelehnt wird. Frau Michel besitzt in Deutschland beträchtliche Vermögenswerte, hat aber auch viele Verpflichtungen. Sie scheint ihre Liegenschaft nur halten zu können, wenn ihr entweder die V. Tranche der Judenabgabe erlassen wird, oder wenn es ihr gelingt, eine Hypothek aufzunehmen. Die Belastung ihres Grundstückes ist ihr von der Devisenstelle bereits abgeschlagen worden."


"Mr. Michel would like to have a new mortgage for paying back a dept on his territory. His request is pendent at the exchange control office in Stuttgart, but it can be foreseen that the request will be rejected. Mrs. Michel is owning considerable objects of value in Germany, but also has many commitments. It seems that she will only be able to keep her property when either the fifth portion of Jewish tax is canceled for her, or when she can have another mortgage. The charge of her property already was rejected by the exchange control office."

According to Mr. Frölicher the consulate in Stuttgart required an approach of the Swiss embassy in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Michel, otherwise there wold be the danger that their possession had to be sold for nothing and finally could be even costs for the home community [of the Swiss man in Switzerland]. "Unfortunately the chances for an interventions don't seem good to me. The charge of a property in Germany by a foreigner is simply dependent on the approval of the responsible exchange control office, and people not being Aryans can hardly await any good will by the embassy. At the other side concerning the Jewish tax Mrs. Michel was a German woman at the deadline thus a remission of the fifth part cannot be derived. Additionally there is the suspicion of a pretended marriage in the case of Mrs. Michel. In fact the marriage was organized only in February 1939 and Mr. Michel is 78 years old now. Both are living - as I am informed in the right way - in a separated way", Frölicher wrote.

[Spy wave against the Jewish couple Michel]

The ruthless indication of a possible pretended marriage was not failing [p.66] it's effect. This information by the Swiss ambassador was provoking a spying eagerness within the Swiss authorities which was like Gestapo. Swiss people were making propaganda against the Jewish couple at any level, almost the whole state's apparatus was working. First the responsibles of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs were investigating the lawyer of the couple Michel and tried to get details about private life of the fresh married people. When this was not bringing many results Swiss Ministry of Justice (Eidgenössisches Justiz- und Polizeidepartement, EJPD) was informed. EJPD now was holding a folder "Michel" with the order organizing a comprehensive observation of both. The remark was explicitly that there was a "non Aryan" [and this was also a non Swiss additionally], and in this way EJPD was giving the investigation to the police command of Zurich [an racist extremist group liking actions against Germans, being lead by Swiss racist political party of SVP, in the population also called ShitVP].

Cantonal spies were doing their work during weeks now. Then EJPD had to state with an overtone of regret that this marriage could not be canceled. Here is the excerpt of the statement of Swiss Federal Police Department (EPD) of May 21, 1940:

Original in German:

"In Beantwortung Ihres Schreibens vom 26. April 1940 in Sachen Adolf und Ida Michel-Arnold beehren wir uns, Ihnen in der Beilage einen Rapport der Kantonspolizei Zürich zu übermitteln. Es ergibt sich daraus, dass die Eheleute Michel nach dem Eheschluss immerhin einige Monate beieinander gewohnt haben. Das Bundesgericht dürfte nach seiner jetzigen Praxis (...) eine Bürgerrechtsehe (Scheinehe) doch nur dann nichtig erklären, wenn es der Frau überhaupt nicht auf die Lebensgemeinschaft, sondern bloss auf den Bürgerrechtserwerb ankam. Es scheint uns daher, dass der Nachweis einer Scheinehe auf Schwierigkeiten stossen würde; doch sind wir bereit, die Angelegenheit weiter zu verfolgen, wenn Sie uns neues Material unterbreiten können. Wir müssen allerdings beifügen, dass wir in Fällen, wo eine Scheinheirat vorzuliegen scheint, nichts anderes tun können, als die Akten dem Heimatkanton zu überweisen, wobei es diesem freisteht, ob er der Heimatgemeinde die Erhebung der Ehenichtigkeitsklage nahelegen will."


"Answering your letter from April 26, 1940, concerning the matter of Adolf and Ida Michel-Arnold, we can give you honestly the annex with the report of Cantonal Police of Zurich. There is the result that after the marriage the married couple Michel after all lived together for some months. According to the practice of today the Federal Court of Justice (...) would declare a marriage of civil right (pretended marriage) as a non valid marriage only when the women had no interest at all living together with the man but only was eager for the acquisition of the civil right. Thus it seems that the proof of a pretended marriage would be very difficult; but we are ready to pursue the matter on when you can present us new material. But we have to add that in cases of pretended marriages we cannot do anything more than handing out the documents to the home canton. For the canton it's up to him if he wants to suggest a lawsuit for invalid marriage to the home community."

At the end the couple Michel was lucky under the circumstances. Whereas all involved authorities had tried to block the Swiss couple the practice of the National Federal Court was saving them. Frölicher's subtle terrorism against Jews was not reaching it's goal in this case.

"Therefore under these circumstances [p.67] we plead to reopen the affair with the mortgage which should be renewed" Mr. Robert Kohli wrote some days later to Berlin, group leader of the juridical and fortune interests department abroad.

This Michel case shows without mercy how the position of official Switzerland had been in those times against Nazi victims. [And most of them had not such a luck].

[Invention of J stamp against "Jewdification" of Switzerland]

[Mr. Heinrich Rothmund and the slogan of "Jewdification of Switzerland" - over 30,000 Jewish refugees rejected sent to the safe death]

Already two years before the boss of Federal Police (Bundespolizei), Mr. Heinrich Rothmund, had protested at the German embassy in Berne: He was claiming the "flood" of Switzerland with Jews from Vienna. For these persons Switzerland had no more use than Germany, Mr. Rothmund claimed. A short time later Swiss diplomats were also protesting in Berlin defending their country against a "Jewdification". [And also Jews in Switzerland did not want to have a mass influx of Jews from abroad because they were anxious of the formation of a Jewish proletariat]. After long negotiations mentioning a compulsive visa regulation and mentioning the diplomatic principle of mutual measures Berne was reaching an agreement which was signed on September 29, 1938. Germans [wrong? Swiss officials at the border] were committed marking all passports of their Jews with a J stamp. The consequence was that over 30,000 Jewish refugees were rejected at the Swiss border and were sent to the safe death.

This policy of a "full boat" [which was lead by racist Swiss government member Von Steiger, member of right wing extremist political party of SVP] was unofficially also valid for the fortunes of the Jews. Performing the actions against Jewish assets was not only executed by Frölicher and his assists, but also by Swiss National Bank.

[Fortunes of Swiss Jews in France in 1940 - Swiss National Bank blocking the transfer]

[1940: Jewish Swiss fortunes in France - aryanizations in France - discussion about 32 or 11 million French Franc]

In the documents about the fight against "hot money" the Jews being hit hardly were not explicitly mentioned at all. But at least in 1942 there was no doubt any more about the fact that the supreme monetary authorities wanted to hinder the shifting of Jewish capital in some way. This intention is shown with the case of Mr. Hérménegilde Snozzi, a Swiss notary in Paris.

In June 1940 France had capitulated and it was only a question of time that also the fortunes of local Jews would be confiscated. The corresponding aryanization and liquidation regulations did not wait for a long time. No difference was made between French Jews and Jews from neutral states, thus also about 160 affected Swiss families were not sure about their fortunes. But in an agreement with German military commanders Swiss embassy reached a special agreement. German regulations should be fulfilled completely but the forced administration [p.68] of the Jewish fortunes should be executed by a Swiss citizen. Mr. Hérménegilde Snozzi was the man for rough operations. According to the historian Picard Mr. Snozzi considered to have the task "to contribute with a Swiss interest to eliminate any Jewish influence in the economic life of France." The notary in Paris was working precisely. He had almost 300 orders for aryanizations respectively liquidations of trading companies, properties, commercial papers, and bank accounts. By these forced sellings and confiscations Mr. Snozzi was making a balance of about 32 million French Francs at the end. This sum was much under the real value of the sold position.

Germans had accepted the idea to transfer the money to Switzerland. And now it Swiss National Bank was coming into play. In August 1942 Mr. Snozzi had traveled to Berne and Zurich the first time to evaluate the variations of possible capital transfer. At this time he was already administrating 11 million French Francs. After a talk with the Swiss National Bank the notary was meeting the responsibles of the clearing office and finally with Mr. Robert Kohli from Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Eidgenössisches Politisches Departement). The group of Mr. Kohli was negotiating then with the responsible authorities of the notorious Vichy Regime. French were agreeing that 11 million could be shifted on a special account (compte spécial) of Swiss National Bank in the house of Bank of France (Banque de France), and on this way the money should be transferred to Switzerland. Thus there was no obstacle any more for this transaction - almost no one. Because in the Swiss National Bank the plea of Kohli was provoking technical arguments arguing against such a transfer. "The answer of Swiss National Bank depends among other things from the fact if and in what extent there is a use for the French Francs in France there. If there would be no extraordinary payments how they are sometimes executed then it can be months until these 11 million French Francs would be consumed. The other case would be if such a fortune could be used for bigger transactions (...)", this was the discussion in the directorate according to the minutes of October 8, 1942.

[Hardliners in Swiss National Bank: Swiss Jewish fortunes in France are not important - Swiss Jews partly have gone to "U.S.A.]

Director Mr. Max Schwab of Swiss National Bank was coming to the conclusion agreeing to the matter of Mr. Kohli under certain circumstances, all other leaders of Swiss National Bank were hardliners declaring clearly that they did not want to take any measure concerning the Jewish fortunes.

Original in Deutsch:

"Das III. Departement (S.69) empfiehlt, auf die Sache nicht einzutreten, da noch zahlreiche andere Fälle vorliegen, die eher eine Berücksichtigung verdienen würden. Das II. Departement stellt fest, dass es sich hier um einen Fall handelt, der im Rahmen der Hilfsaktion des Bundes für die Rückwanderer behandelt werden sollte. Es wäre s.E. [seines Erachtens] nicht ganz richtig, wenn für einzelne Personen, die stets in Frankreich gelebt haben, die Möglichkeit eröffnet würde, über das Compte spécial [Spezialkonto] Millionenbeträge in die Schweiz zu bringen. Das Direktorium beschliesst hierauf einstimmig, auf die Angelegenheit nicht einzutreten. "

Translation in English:

"3d Department [p.69] is recommending not dealing anything with this matter because there are many other cases yet earning even more attention. The 2d Department states that this is a case which should be treated by the Federal Administration of the government within the cases of remigrants. According to him it would not be absolutely right when for single persons having lived always in France would be opened the possibility for shifting amounts of millions to Switzerland using a special account [compte spécial]. Therefore the directorate is taking the resolution by common consent not dealing with this matter."

But Mr. Kohli was trying it again four weeks later. This time the matter was about the part of affected Jews who was not sure about safety in Switzerland and had emigrated to the "U.S.A." directly. They had left seven to eight million French Francs in the hands of Mr. Snozzi. Mr. Kohli was asking in a letter to Swiss National Bank on November 5, 1942 if thee Francs could be taken over for dollars. And one more negative report again. Notoriously anti-Jewish Swiss Frank cash producer had the goal to block the French affair profoundly. After having delayed the urgent affair by almost four months they were making a summary on February 19, 1943 in just one single sentence:

Original in German:

"Das Direktorium ist mit dem III. Departement der Meinung, dass eine Übernahme der französischen Franken selbst gegen Abtretung von Dollars nicht in Betracht kommt."


"Directorate is coinciding with the 3d Department that a takeover of French Francs even for dollars is not coming int consideration."

There is no justification in the minutes. This is not a surprise because Mr. Alfred Hirs, the boss of the leading 3d Department was working much for German interests and did not want to work for Jewish requests. It was an open secret that Mr. Hirs had no fear for being in a tight relation with the Nazis, and he had no fear at all with their ideology.

[President of Swiss National Bank Mr. Hirs for gold business: gold from Belgium - currency for Nazi Germany - slogans of Hirs against Jews]

This [the friendly position to Nazi Germany] was proved for example by the behavior with gold business with the German Reichsbank. Knowing everything about kind and origin he was permitting for example the takeover of robbed gold bars after the occupation of Belgium and by this was providing the currency needed by the Third Reich in form of Swiss Francs. At the other side Mr. Hirs did not leave out any opportunity concerning the Jews to utter defaming remarks. And there were enough opportunities:

"Four fifth of the concerning merchants are Jews",

he was commenting in 1943 to the Federal Police Department (EPD) the fact that there was a vivid trade in Switzerland during the war [p.70]

with bank notes of different currencies: Hirs was stating that the Minister of Finance of provisional French government, Mr. Pierre Mendès-France, would be a "rich Jew", this was in an official report about the cash market of the end of September 1944. And during the negotiations after the war for the Washington Agreement Mr. Hirs described the delegation of "U.S.A." having a "Jewish character", and additionally he was angry about "the Americans, above all the Jews in the treasury" [and Mr. Hirs was right, this was the criminal Zionist clique of Zionist Minister of Finance Morgenthau]. The list of slogans could be prolonged without difficulties. Mr. Hirs simply did not think one moment to give help for Swiss Jews from France transferring their fortunes to Switzerland.

[Mr. Hirs was not making any difference between Jews and Zionists - this was his big fault].

[Transfer of Swiss Jewish fortunes by side ways]

At the end Mr. Snozzy had to find other ways. At the end the fortunes were flowing to Switzerland mainly
-- by depots of consulates,
-- by statal clearing, or
-- by currency compensations in private companies.

At the end one part was saved by accounts of Swiss National Bank. May be this was the result of constant pressure from Berne [Mr. Kohli].

[Diplomatic representation for 43 states in 35 countries: example Argentina]

[Example of Swiss "work" in the German embassy of Argentina - news about dead Jews who eventually have fortunes in Germany - documents destroyed]

Official Swiss offices were not only blocking Jewish interests of fortunes concerning the own country and the own citizens. Concerning their good services Switzerland was working as a protecting power by the embassies abroad. Switzerland was guaranteeing a kind of emergency contact between the enemies. On the top of this work during the war Switzerland was representing 43 states in 35 different countries. Swiss embassies were organizing the coming home of diplomatic staff after the breakdown of relations, was watching the treatment of prisoners of war and of interned civilists. Additionally Switzerland was also assisting foreign citizens. As one can see with the example of Argentina the ambassadors and their chiefs in Berne were interpreting this humanitarian order partly very unilaterally:

After the declaration of war of Hitler the Swiss embassy in Buenos Aires was taking over the interest and with this the embassy of the Third Reich in Argentina. The ambassador Eduard Feer was working with the German matters even with enthusiasm. Assist payments for diplomats were treated so carefully as also the requests of the two German financial institutes [p.71] German Transatlantic Bank (Banco Alemán Transatlántico) and Germanic Bank of South America (Banco Germánico de la América del Sur). But Swiss diplomats were working with even much more difficult stuff. At one side they were administrating the objects of value in the German embassy, and these were objects of several Jews like Ferdinand Israel Salberg from whom the Nazis had confiscated his horn-rimmed glasses and his watch. At the other side among the interests of the German was also the enforcement of the 11th legislation of the Reich Citizenship Law of 1941. According to this law a Jew was loosing German citizenship when he was definitely living abroad. And this meant with any consequence: "The fortune of these Jews (...) falls to the Reich." (orig. in German: "Das Vermögen dieser Juden (...) verfällt dem Reich.")

How Swiss diplomats were managing these conditions can be hardly be reconstructed because the corresponding folder in the Swiss Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) is badly with missing documents. For example on March 10, 1944, the ambassador in Buenos Aires was sending a telegram to Berne and was requesting an instruction if official action for German Jews would be excluded on the base of this 11th legislation of Reich Citizenship Law. No written reaction from Berne could be found in the folder of Buenos Aires.

Two months later the embassy got from Switzerland the following order:

Original in German:

"Wir beehren uns, ihnen mitzuteilen, dass das Auswärtige Amt in Berlin durch Vermittlung der hiesigen Deutschen Gesandtschaft die Bitte ausgesprochen hat, Sie möchten auch die Todesfälle von Nicht-Ariern mitteilen, wenn aus den bei Ihnen vorhandenen Vorgängen ersichtlich ist, dass in Deutschland befindliche Vermögenswerte hiervon berührt werden. Wir bitten Sie, diesem Wunsche nachzukommen, wobei wir uns allerdings den Entscheid über die Bekanntgabe solcher Todesfälle an die deutschen Behörden vorbehalten."


"We have the honor to communicate you that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin (Auswärtiges Amt) ordered the request by the mediation of the local German embassy that you will also communicate the cases of death of non Aryans when there are cases with affected fortunes in Germany. We request to meet this wish, but we are reserving the decision if the cases of such deaths will be communicated to the German authorities or not."

On June 30, Swiss embassy was confirming the order. The responsibles will not miss to meet the wish of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt) communicating such cases of death of non Aryan people.

Thus one thing is sure: There were official acts or death notes, but Swiss staff could interpret their humanitarian order within a system of two classes. Considering also Jewish persons was not at all self-evident. Orders from Berlin were at least obeyed in a first phase of time. From Argentina - for many emigrants a destination of their flight - Berne was getting regular news about dead Jews who had taken their flight from Germany. What Berne had done with these indications about dead Jews is an open question until today. [p.72]

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