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Trustees of the Reich

Chapter 5: Undermined, bribed, and spied

Part 2: Undermined: political and military espionage: Indebted Swiss lawyer Neidhart from Basel serving for NSDAP -- "selling" of Jews in jail by the Third Reich -- spied: betrayal of banking data to Nazi Germany by the family mafia of Neidhart in high street bank of CS -- bribe of Swiss authorities by the NS state: jewelry, diamonds, gold, commercial papers etc.

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)

[Undermined: political and military espionage: indebted Swiss lawyer Neidhart from Basel serving for NSDAP]

[Lawyer suffering a bankruptcy with a brake company in Saint Louis near Basel]

The "Americans" were presuming and also anonymous messages to Swiss embassies were no fantasy. One of these stories is about Swiss treachers was the one about Mr. Dr. Paul Neidhart, born on February 9, 1903, Swiss citizen, being a lawyer. But he had a Gestapo number: V172. His code name was Leo Markus. The code name of his boss was Sailer. His code address of the authorized office was Milag in Stuttgart.

All was beginning just so harmless. Neidhart was a member from a big but not rich farmer's family from eastern part of Switzerland. He was passing an apprenticeship as an architectural draftsman for machinery and then he was passing a catholic residential school for getting the secondary school diploma (in Switzerland called "Matura"). Because there was missing money everywhere he had to finance his studies with some jobs and also with credits. First he was living as a student of philosophy in Belgium in the town of Löwen (Lions). Then he was returning to Switzerland and was studying laws in Basel. Mr. Neidhart was getting on to a Dr. title with a dissertation. Whereas he was in heavy debts now he was only thinking to the next career being a manager of a company. During his preparations for the law exam (bar exam) for being a lawyer he was beginning a business with car brakes. From all possible people, also from his brother-in-law and from siblings he got credits for the necessary seed money purchasing the inventory of the company Meier-Nicolet & Cie. in Saint Louis [in France near Basel]. But the times were difficult and the project with the brakes were failing. Neidhart's dream of getting rich was ending with nothing. He had got 70 enforcements already because bills were not payed and in spring 1939 he had to sell the company with a loss. His mountain of dept was even bigger now. The money for paying the interest on debt was payed with promissory notes and with further loans.

Whereas after his bankruptcy in France he was opening a lawyer's office in Basel at Falkner Street Nº 4 he could not finance his life [p.122] by himself. Only the marriage with a daughter from a noble pharmacy family from Lucerne was granting him a little rest. His parents-in-law were giving him 10,000 Swiss Francs so hi could eliminate his red figures. From his wife he had got 2,600 Swiss Francs before already. But Mr. Paul Neidhart wanted more than a normal life with a family and with a profession. "In some way he was addicted with a megalomania and he was also an impostor", a family member is remembering today [1997].

[Money by ransom business with Jews who are in jail in Germany - weekly ticket for Germany - manipulation to be a spy for Germany]

For getting more money he was using every mean now, even profiting from the pledge of Jewish persons. Already shortly after his failure with car brakes he was making his first businesses with so called ransom business - he had already a great reputation for being a "hack lawyer". These ransom actions were exchange procedures being initiated by Swiss people. Jews in jail were renouncing on their foreign fortune and got their freedom for this, and the agent got high provisions for this mediation. In May 1939 Mr. Neidhart got his first contact - with the help of a familiar person - with the German authorities. These new relationships permitted him to purchase a border ticket permitting him a trip to Germany one time per week. But German spies were working with him only since spring 1942.

His recruiting by the German Nazi defense was made in the railway restaurant in Lörrach [German frontier town]. There was a man sitting next to him. This unknown person was the agent Mr. Brendler, code name "Rhode", from the defense office in Lörrach. There were some talks, and then Mr. Neidhart was ready for a first introduction test. He should purchase some cigars in Switzerland for this Mr. Brendler.

The second meeting was two weeks later. Agent Mr. Rhode was going into details now. He began to put questions which were above all about military circumstances in Switzerland. His goal was clear: He wanted to engage Mr. Neidhart for the military secret service. The project was a first mission in the Swiss town of Olten [central railway hub of Switzerland]. The German agent wanted to give him 50 Swiss Francs for this. First Mr. Paul Neidhart was rejecting, but was agreeing then to deliver some economic and political information.

Mr. Neidhart was an official member of German secret service now. Formalities were arranged during another meeting during summer 1942. But there was a new boss not. For the agent Rhode had come Mr. Willy Seeger [p.123], code name "Sailer", the responsible for Switzerland in the Gestapo office of Stuttgart. This was not a coincidence that Mr. Neidhart got a Jewish code name "Leo Markus", because the Germans had many projects with him yet. From his employer Mr. Neidhart got 300 Swiss Francs per month, and expenses additionally. At a first glance this was a modest salary, but there would be massive additional income soon.

After Mr. Neidhart had fulfilled all conditions during his first actions agent Mr. Rhode was mediating the meeting between Mr. Neidhart and Mr. Dr. Walter Dünnhaupt, an agent of the customs investigation office of Magdeburg [central Germany]. Mr. Dünnhaupt was specialized on tracing Jewish accounts in Switzerland. Mr. Neidhart was realizing at once that there would much money for him with this collaboration. Demonstrating his willingness corresponding to Mr. Dünnhaupt he was pretending to be a fanatic hater of the Jews. The customs inspector then explained the rule of provisions. For one message of fortune and for one fortune flowing back to Germany the share was ten percent.

[Mr. Neidhart becoming a double agent, attracting Jewish funds systematically and betraying Jews then - detention and proved spying for NSDAP]

There are many rumors today yet [1997] about the activities of V172. A man from his home village is remembering: "Mr. Neidhart was presenting himself to the Jews as a trustee Mr. Dr. Markus. As soon as they had trusted him giving the money to Switzerland the trap of Gestapo was working. One day a friend of him also came to my father. He should store money for him. But my mother did not trust to the matter and sent the Neidhart accomplice away."

Basel police was detaining the Gestapo agent in spring 1944. But during the following penal investigation only some orders could be proved in fact. Almost all orders of the German secret service and the own notes were burnt regularly. "The orders were given orally and Dr. Paul Neidhart was normally putting down the orders only in abbreviated words. And after the order had been done all notes and all written orders transmitted by a courier were burnt thus only one written order and only a little quantity of notes could be confiscated", this is written in the court's decision of the penal court of the canton of Basel Town on October 24, 1945.

Additionally the bribed lawyer was writing his spying reports often personally in the German offices of the responsible authorities. Yet on the day of his detention a coded telegram of German secret service was arriving his law office:

Original in German:

"Habe Sie in Lörrach [S.124] nicht erreicht stop Berghaus verlangt nochmalige Besprechung zwecks Vertragsabschluss stop Treffpunkt ab 18. April in Heidelberg stop sofortige Rückantwort erbeten = Dr. Mertens."


"In Lörrach [p.124] I did not reach you stop Berghaus requires another meeting for a conclusion of a contract stop meeting from April 18 on in Heidelberg stop pleas answer promptly - Dr. Mertens."

Instead of modest evidence Basel justice could prove him 56 cases of spying in the political and military secret service. Some examples are illustrating what the Germans wanted to know. For example they wanted to have an information about Mr. Robert Blass in Zurich. He was the President of Swiss Lawyer's Association. It should be investigated if Mr. Blass was a member of a Free Mason Lodge. Another request was about national deputy and cigar producer Mr. Henri Burrus. The Germans wanted to have a comprehensive report about his financial conditions and about his mandates in management boards. And even prominent people of Swiss elite were objects of spying. V172 had to find out, if the former German President of Reichsbank, Mr. Hjalmar Schacht, had contacts to English and "American" circles of finance. And the focus of this question were the relations of the President with the "Bank for Indo-China".

Mr. Neidhart who was often collaborating for his investigations with the economic information offices was not limiting on the delivery of political information. But much more profit could be made with spying in the sector of Mr. Dünnhaupt, thus with the economic secret service.

[Mr. Neidhart in Swiss military pretending to be a protector of the Jews - high provisions of 10% are decisive for his systematic betrayal of Jews]

Concerning the high provisions Mr. Neidhart was not leaving out this chance. Germans having saved their fortunes secretly to Switzerland were delivered to the German authorities. Even in his military circle he was spying probing to convince his Swiss military comrades for delivering him addresses of Germans in Switzerland. He was luring with a compensation and he was presenting himself as a philanthropist stating that these people would be obliged to declare their funds in Germany. When they did not declare this they had to keep it secret and then they would have difficulties. As he was possessing a border card he could look for these people in Germany and would offer himself for the administration of the funds. There should be a good fee for this, Neidhart declared to his Swiss spies. And some of them were bank directors.

It could not be investigated in how many cases Mr. Neidhart had a success manipulating Swiss people. Basel investigation authorities could only prove a little part of his activities. But the affair with Mr. Haeberlen is illustrating the disastrous consequences of Neidhart's messages for the affected people [p.125]. Neidhart got an information from an account controller that German Mr. Otto Haeberlen was the owner of a company in Switzerland handling jewelries in big quantities (wholesale commerce). In November 1942 Mr. Neidhart was communicating this information to his boss Mr. Dünnhaupt that this company will be converted into a Swiss stock company (PLC). Mr. Haeberlen had not communicated his complete turnover to Germany and now they would try to withheld the whole possession from the Reich. Mr. Haeberlen was an ill person and wanted to reach that in the case of his death the estate authorities would not give any message to the inventory authorities in Pforzheim in Germany. Nazi authorities were not hesitating much after this message. During a travel back to Germany he was detained by Gestapo. Mr. Otto Haeberlen's wife was kept in prison during five months until she had given from the heritage 100,000 Swiss Francs to the Reich "voluntarily". Mr. Neidhart was making his cash with normal 10 per cent, thus 10,000 Swiss Francs success fee.

["Selling" of detained Jews by the Third Reich]

[NSDAP "selling" detained Jews - Swiss lawyers ransoming Jews for provisions]

There were political spying services, economical spying services, and this Mr. Paul Neidhart, confessing anti-Semite, was managing another business yet with full power, this was ransoming persecuted Jews. For the Nazis this "selling of Jews was a decisive foreign currency earner. Only in 1944 1.6 million dollars in gold were coming in releasing 1,685 detainees. Since this first case in spring 1939 Mr. Neidhart was working with human trafficking from time to time again. He was becoming an official Gestapo member and he was trying to promote this business massively, because now he also had free access to the information about the German concentration camps and their detainees. For normal spying business he was going on to work alone, but for special action he was also engaging parts of his big family now.

His brother Josef working as an engineer in Brugg [30 km westward from from Zurich] was especially vulnerable for this work. At the end of December 1942 Paul was presenting him the secret business. He should notify him when Jewish persons could be found in Switzerland who had familiar members in Germany. There would be the possibility to free such persons when Swiss relatives or familiar members would pay certain sums or when the German Jews had fortune in Switzerland available. And Josef's first actions came soon, partly as an assist and partly as a whistle blower.

[The case of pharmacist Mr. Alfred Bloch - with familiar members in jail in France]

At the beginning of 1943 Mr. Paul Neidhart got an information of a business friend that Mr. Alfred Bloch, a pharmacist in Basel, had a yearly income [p.126] of 370,000 Swiss Franks he payed taxes for, and Mr. Bloch had familiar members in Paris which were detained by Gestapo. This case was just according to the taste of Mr. Neidhart. He was calling Mr. Bloch immediately. At the telephone he declared to the pharmacist in short words that the affair would be about his children abroad. He should come to the lawyer's office. When Mr. Bloch came Mr. Neidhart was coming out with the truth immediately. He wanted to know where his children were. But the pharmacist was cautious. He knew well that his two daughters and his two sons-in-law had been detained in Paris, but he was silent. "I don't know", Mr. Bloch was answering. Mr. Neidhart was describing the project than. He wanted to know how much the father would pay for liberating his children from jail. Mr. Bloch was evading the question indicating that the price would be made in Germany and not by him for sure.

Mr. Bloch was not thinking obviously that his discussion partner was an agent of Gestapo. Mr. Neidhart was calling immediately with his boss in Stuttgart and the Stuttgart office was getting the decisive information from the security police in Paris. Bloch's children were in the camp in Châlons. Stuttgart was also giving the price. For supply of currency for German Reichsbank a sum of 250,000 Swiss Francs had to be payed for a "privileged emigration" of the affected Jews. Mr. Neidhart was giving the order to his brother then to negotiate with Mr. Bloch. And this was really a big action now. As both wanted to make much money with this business Mr. Bloch was first informed that the redeeming sum would be 800,000 Swiss Francs. With this price the two brothers would have made a pure profit of 550,000 Swiss Francs because Stuttgart had "only" required a price of 250,000 Swiss Francs. But Mr. Bloch did not want to pay. He would not be prepared to pay so much money. And with this statement the poker was going on.

Mr. Josef Neidhart who was asking his whole circle of acquaintances regularly if there would be Jewish familiar members was coming back some weeks later. This time the offer was 600,000 Swiss Franks. Mr. Bloch was rejecting again. The third trial at the beginning of 1944 the engineer and human trafficker was making a massive pressure. He was telling the pharmacist that his familiar members had been deported and would be in Eastern Europe. If there would be anything then he had to expect their death. Whereas Mr. Neidhart was going down to 250,000 Swiss Francs at the end he had played his poker too much. Mr. Bloch [p.127] knew in the meantime that these indications were absolutely wrong. The deal did not work. [It seems that the deportation was a fake].

During the penal investigation against Mr. Paul and Mr. Josef Neidhart and further charged persons the investigators were less interested in the human trafficking but more in the intentions in the background. Because Basel justice had the "urgent suspicion" that the motivation was not to free Jews in most of the cases but the main motivation was tracing Jewish fortunes in Switzerland. Because of the Haeberlen case the assumption was clear that the German custom's investigator Mr. Dünnhaupt was the employer.

[The case of Loeb family with detained Jews in France]

In 1942 Mr. Robert Loeb reached also the office of Mr. Paul Neidhart. Mr. Loeb wanted to know how his uncle, his aunt and his two cousins could be freed in France. Mr. Neidhart was mentioning a ransom of 10,000 to 12,000 Swiss Franks per person and showed Mr. Loeb as a proof of his experiences several telegrams which had been sent to Lörrach. Then he declared the manner of acting. The ransomed people would be accompanied to the Swiss border and then it would be up to them how they would go to Switzerland. In the same conversation Mr. Neidhart was asking Mr. Loeb if his uncle Salomon Loeb-Metzger living in France in Tarn Province (département Tarn) had any fortune in Switzerland, eventually assets with business friends for communicating this to the German authorities.

According to the Basel investigating authorities the information of Mr. Loeb was reaching Germany directly.

Original in German:

"In der Folge erstattete der Angeklagte Dr. Neidhart Dr. Dünnhaupt Meldung über einen gewissen Metzler. Es handle sich um einen Juden, der im Jahre 1934 oder 1935 von Deutschland nach Frankreich gereist sei, sich zuerst in Paris aufgehalten habe und nach der Besetzung mit einer falschen Carte d'Identité [Identitätskarte] nach einem Orte am Fluss Tarn geflohen sei und sich dort nun mit einer Verwandten in einem Hotel aufhalte. Neidhart wollte von einem guten Freund der Basler Verwandten des Metzler erfahren haben, dass diese sein Vermögen von einer Million Schweizer Franken verwalteten. Dr. Neidhart fügte hinzu, er selbst könne keine weiteren Erhebungen machen, da es sonst auffallen würde. Für Dr. Dünnhaupt sei es aber eine einfache Sache, da Metzler Jude sei, da könne kurzer Prozess gemacht werden. Es kann kein Zweifel bestehen, dass dieser Metzler mit dem obgenannten Salomon Loeb-Metzger identisch ist."


"As a consequence the accused person Mr. Dr. Neidhart was communicating to Mr. Dr. Dünnhaupt about a certain Mr. Metzler. This was a Jew who had traveled in 1934 or 1935 from Germany to France, had lived in Paris first and after the occupation had fled to a location at Tarn River in France with a faked identity card. Since then he was there wit a familiar member living in a hotel. Mr. Neidhart wanted have received the information from a good friend of the familiar members of Mr. Metzler in Basel that these familiar member in Switzerland would administrate a fortune of one million Swiss Francs. Mr. Dr. Neidhart was adding that he himself could not make further investigations because this would call attention otherwise. But for Mr. Dr. Dünnhaupt this would be simple matter because Mr. Metzler was a Jew and there was no difficulty for a lawsuit. There cannot be any doubt that this Mr. Metzler and Mr. Salomon Loeb-Metzger were the same person."

[Spied: betrayal of banking data to Nazi Germany by family mafia Neidhart in CS high street bank]

[Brother Leodegar at Credit Suisse bank (CS) at Parade Square in Zurich - bank secret of CS is shared with the Gestapo - and the penal procedure is closed]

In this ruthless business with Nazi victims there were [p.128] the brothers Paul and Josef Neidhart, but one more family member was working in this connection. Brother Leodegar Neidhart was working as a bank clerk at Swiss high street bank of Credit Suisse, and thus he was the perfect partner for the business with Paul Neidhart. During Mr. Josef Neidhart and other persons hat to provide information about Jewish assets in Switzerland in a time consuming way, Mr. Leodegar Neidhart was directly sitting at the source. And he was spying a lot. Since then Credit Suisse was sharing the bank secret with Gestapo in fact.

The proof for this leakage at Parade Square in Zurich was delivering a copy of two account informations which could be safed by the authorities during the detention of Mr. Paul Neidhart. Mr. "Leo Markus" had received the evidence by Josef Neidhart during the year of 1943 or in the beginning of 1944. The target were two Austrian Jews with addresses in Vienna with Jewish sounding names and Credit Suisse had no message of them. On the copy Neidhart's ideas of ransom money were put down. For Mr. Dr. Alfred Schugowitsch should be payed 500,000 Swiss Francs. In the case that he was married the sum would rise to 800,000 Swiss Francs. For the professor Viktor Schufinsky the price was lower, the "offer" was 350,000 Swiss Francs. But the true dimensions of this difficult CS affair were never discovered. Basel investigation authorities could or did not want to find out in how many cases Mr. Leodegar Neidhart had given confidential information to the Nazis and of how many Jewish accounts the Nazis had known. In a comprehensive decision of the court the judges only came to this conclusion:

Original in German:

"Paul Neidhart erhielt die Meldung nachgewiesenermassen von seinem Bruder (...). Wohl lassen auch hier das beharrliche Bestreiten des Josef Neidhart im Untersuchungsverfahren (...) und das Fehlen des Original-Zettels eine Weiterleitung nach Deutschland vermuten, doch reichen diese Verdachtsgründe nicht zu einer Überführung der Täterschaft."


"Mr. Paul Neidhart received the message more or less from his brother (...). During the investigation Mr. Josef Neidhart was denying everything (...) and an original paper about the transmission to Germany is missing, but it can be presumed that this had been transmitted to Germany. But the suspicion alone is not a reason to condemn the perpetrators."

Mr. Leodegar Neidhart was not mentioned with one single world. He was not even within the circle of the accused persons. Public prosecutor's office which was working very well had closed the case against him on February 12, 1945 already and had communicated this also to federal prosecutor's office. During the investigation against the officers of Credit Suisse there had coming out clearly that he had provided information at his employer and had transmitted this information to representatives of Gestapo, but allegedly it could not be proved

Original in German

"dass objektiv oder subjektiv einem verbotenen [S.129] Nachrichtendienst Vorschub geleistet wurde, da glaubhaft gemacht wurde, dass Leodegar Neidhart zur Auskunftserteilung ermächtigt worden war und er damals keinen Grund zu Verdacht hatte."


"that objectively or subjectively a prohibited [p.129] secret service was supported because it was made plausible that Mr. Leodegar Neidhart had been authorized to transmit information and that he had no reason for any suspicion at this moment."

[Case: a list of Swiss high street bank of CS with 28 accounts of rich Germans]

It is interesting that a short time later Swiss federal prosecutor's office was watching another bank employee of CS with the suspicion having delivered information to the Nazis during the war. Federal prosecutor's office of Switzerland possessed a list with 28 accounts all being owned by German citizens of different origin. On this list were even prominent persons like Nazi film director Mrs. Leni Riefenstahl with the indication having deposed 2.5 million Swiss Francs on the account of CS.

[Federal prosecutor's office remarked]:

"Die vorstehenden Angaben sind dem Gewährsmann seiner Zeit durch einen deutschen Agenten zugehalten worden. Dieser wiederum hat sie von schweizerischen Mittelsmännern bekommen. Der eigentliche Lieferant dieser Meldungen über die 'Deutschen Schwarzguthaben in der Schweiz' soll angeblich ein Bankkassier der Schweizerischen Kreditanstalt in Zürich sein",

"The indications here have been transmitted to the currier of those times by a German agent. This German agent did get it by Swiss spies. The proper delivery of this message about 'German secret money in Switzerland' is said having been a cashier of a bank of high street bank of Credit Suisse in Zurich"

this was the remark of Swiss federal prosecutor's office in a report of July 18, 1945. Their interest was a closed investigation against "Mr. August Naegele, Jehle, Brügger and other accused people who had been convicted because of forbidden economic spying. But in this case probably not the whole activity of this spying activity was published, and not at all an alleged collaboration of a bank employee in Zurich." CS does not want to give any opinion about these cases today [1997].

[The court decisions against "lawyer" Neidhart and his family - kin liability and mobbing against the children in the home village]

Mr. Leodegar Neidhart was not convicted, but Basel prosecution service was not tolerant with the other members of the Neidhart family. The affair about Credit Swiss high street bank was closed in the prosecutor's office [saving the reputation of the Swiss bank, saving the robbery of Jewish funds in the bank, and perhaps also by a little bribe of the bank...] the investigation against the boss of the gang, Mr. Paul Neidhart, was provoking regular headlines in the Swiss press. Criminal court of Basel was condemning him "because of political and economical and military spying and because of falsification of documents without limits" to four years of penal workhouse and five years employment ban as a lawyer. His assist, Mr. Josef Neidhart, got less penalty because there was evidence for coercion only. But also the rest of the family was virtually marked for life. The media were presenting the case again and again and therefore a kin liability was developed against the Neidhart family in it's home village. Whereas five siblings of Mr. Paul Neidhart had nothing to do with this business they were rated also as assists of Gestapo. Even their children [p.130] had to suffer mobbing in the village, also 50 years after the events. "We are suffering now [1997] yet. People are not saying it directly any more but sometimes it can be heard that they are speaking about it in the background", means the son of brother of Mr. Paul Neidhart.

V172, this was Mr. Paul Neidhart, was dying at the beginning of the 1990s with over 80 years in the eastern part of Switzerland. Mr. Neidhart was not changing his mind. After his discharge from the penal workhouse he was organizing a new business, now with properties and with estate, and he was "making business with doubtful people again" as the son of his brother could remember.

[Bribe of Swiss authorities by the NS state with Jewish objects: jewelry, diamonds, gold, commercial papers etc.]

Neidhart affair is illustrating the mentality of a country which was not part of the war, but which was also hurt by the war. As a Gestapo agent without lobby this hack lawyer was a very good example for national psychological hygiene. Media were presenting him and others without limits as a bad example, e.g. New Journal of Zurich (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) and other ones. This provoked the impression that there would be a rigorous coping with the past. But the big criminals in Switzerland were hardly or no topic at all. There was not only silence about the intrigues of the banks with the commissarian administrators or with extorted authorizations of Gestapo, but also the biggest business with looted objects of the twentieth century was concealed. Nazis were not only getting back [a certain percentage of] the hot money from their victims from Switzerland. And as an exchange for currency the Third Reich was delivering tons of looted objects to the alpine country of Switzerland. If there was jewelry, diamonds, paintings, gold, bonds or stocks, the Swiss dealers with a Swiss passport were not rejecting any business.

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