Chapter 2: Doubled bottoms (in Swiss banks)
Jewish fortunes from France, Poland, CSSR, and Hungary - main banks are the three Swiss high street banks - Jewish little bank Wohl & Co. -- Germany tightening currency regulations against Swiss smugglers step by step -- fund's smuggler Wegener - German lawyer with an own bank in Switzerland -- smuggling assets in suit cases with doubled bottoms -- fund's smuggler Walter Welti - a train conductor in the night train collaborating with a Swiss Jewish womanTranslation by Michael Palomino (2013)
from: Peter Balzli: Treuhänder des Reichs. Eine Spurensuche. Werd-Verlag, Zürich 1997
* Names were changed by the author because of protection of personality
Harsh currency rules forcing Jews to save their fortunes secretly. Professional smugglers are wanted.
[Jewish fortunes - Swiss high street banks - little Jewish bank Wohl & Co.]
[The lie of the Banker's Association of 1996: the rise of capital of 1934 had "nothing to do with Jewish fortunes" - Jewish assets from France, Poland, CSSR, and Hungary etc.]
The statement of Mr. Heinrich Schneider was bold. In an interview with the Second German State's TV [ZDF] in summer 1996 he was asked - as a secretary of Swiss Banker's Association - about the conditions of the 1930s. When the question came how it can be explained that the assets of customers were rising in this time in such a big extent Mr. Schneider was denying any connection. This had nothing to do with the Jewish assets. But Mr. Schneider is erring. For sure it will not be possible for any expert commission to make a precise balance how much fortune of foreign Jews was in Switzerland at the end, but a big part of these assets was coming to Switzerland as "hot money". Since 1934 Swiss were also making propaganda with a newly installed bank secret stating in the leaflets that this bank secret would be a safety against foreign espionage. This Swiss propaganda provoked that there was not only German Jewish capital flowing in but since 1936 there was also coming in capital from French, Polish, Czech or Hungarian Jews being stored in safes or on number accounts.
[Witness Oswald Landau: Jewish assets partly from Poland - high street banks SBG, Bankverein and CS are favored goals of the assets]
Mr. Oswald Landau is one of the few witnesses of this period. Today he is 80 years old, was a banker, had studied law from 1935 to 1939 at Zurich University and was working during some time in the business of his father. In those times the Jewish bank Wohl & Co. was a little and well manageable institute with a very cosmopolitan clientèle. "In those times many Jewish fortunes were coming in to Switzerland from all possible countries. Concerning the law of the states of origin this was illegal, but we were morally obliged to help the people. One part of our Jewish customers came from the east, above all from Poland. But many familiars and friends preferred to have their assets in one of the three high street banks", Landau declared. (p.37)
[Jewish bank Wohl & Co. in Zurich systematically attracted Jewish assets - number accounts - bank reports are stored]
But at the same time his father had further problems. Whereas there was no difference to the business of the high street banks, the bank house of Wohl & Co. was watched by the local authorities. A report of the police corps of the canton of Zurich from August 20, 1935, gives some information. There had allegedly been a fraud case of a Swiss customer, and the consulate in Zagreb had given the order to Zurich police to investigate the business of father Landau and his partners. "The enterprise Wohl & Co., bank house, Beaten Lane (Beatengasse) 15, in Zurich, was founded at the beginning of 1920 by three Jews from Poland from Cracow: Wohl Aron, Holzer Aron, and Landau Abraham, nickname Roman. As purpose of the company was indicated in the commercial registry:
Production of watches, exportation of watches, bank commission.
From the beginning the last point seems having been the main business, and the exportation of watches seems to be only to be a fake". This was the report of the investigating police officers. He was further stating that a big part of the customers of Wohl & Co. would be "typical smugglers of currency". According to the police these smugglers were placed in Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam, and Paris, from where they were managing their business. "These people have accounts with the enterprise Wohl & Co., so called concealed accounts or number accounts. By telephone the account holders are ordering all possible orders which are executed by the enterprise Wohl & Co. The confirmations of the orders are made by Wohl & Co. but are not sent to the account owners normally but are stored in the bank for the account owners. In most of these cases they are never fetched by the account holders. Therefore one can see in which grade these banking business actions can be called as normal. The account holder of the mentioned bank above want to be unknown, and the bank house Wohl & Co. are promoting such people and businesses."
As a proof for the alleged dubious kind of the banking businesses a special case was cited in the report where Mr. Abraham Landau was defending himself giving any information about it. The stile of the report does not astonish Landau. "Switzerland in those times was rather a Nazi country. Even my rector in the grammar school was a member of Swiss Nazi party (Front). When the Germans had come they had first taken us", he means today.
In 1939 Mr. Oswald Landau was traveling to the world exhibition in New York. Principally the project was to return in October. But when the Germans began to occupy Poland he decided to stay [p.38] there. His father who was still in Switzerland was not remaining without fear there. On May 10, 1940, he was catching the last flight to Barcelona and could save himself to Brazil passing Lisbon. Father and son were seeing each other only after over ten years again.
[Jewish bank Wohl & Co. changing to the "U.S.A." - Jewish bank accounts are confiscated after 1945]
But the Landau family did not only have to save the family members, but they were also saving the assets of their persecuted clients. "The biggest part we could save with "American" banks in the "U.S.A." as a deposit", the today 80 years old banker states. After the war there were rumors again and again that in the bank which was called Landau & Kimche now could be bigger assets of accounts without name and without holders. In spring 1954 for example the Hungarian embassy was contacting the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Eidgenössisches Politisches Departement) presenting four accounts of Hungarian Jews from Budapest who were murdered in 1944 [or were taken to a German concentration camp and then deported to the Gulag after "liberation"]. These affected clients were
-- Mr. Jakob Kaufmann with 98,000 Swiss Francs on the number account 28;
-- Mr. Mor Apfel with 880,000 Swiss Francs on the number account 36; and
-- Mr. Samuel Rosenberg with 176,000 Swiss Francs on the number account 56, 63, and 84.
But the investigations of the Swiss authorities remained without any result. "The refusing answer of the Bank Landau & Kimche, Zurich, could be expected. There is no measure we cold take against them because of the bank secret", says a file note of the federal department of foreign policy of May 4, 1954.
[Bank Wohl & Co. is sold to SBG in 1980 - denial of dormant assets (without account holder)]
In 1980 Mr. Oswald Landau sold his bank to SBG [UBS]. Today he is denying any rumor that there had been dormant assets in his bank. "This bank was a little one and was very well manageable. We did know our clients very well. One part of them did fetch their assets after the war. The little rest we gave to the Swiss government according to the federal resolution of 1962 about dormant assets. Then nothing was left", he means with a relaxing voice.
Mr. Landau is hardly nervous today. But with one document from the archives of Swiss National Bank the former banker is making an exception. He reminds to the spying affair, suddenly he is curious again. Because the minutes of the directorate Nº 1359 from December 17/18, 1936 is mentioning him personally:
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is indicating that there is a report of the customs inspection sector II. The case is a certain Mr. Oswald Landau, a banker [p.39] in Zurich who wanted to evade the declaration of the importation of gold of a value of 65,000 Swiss Francs hiding the gold in doubled bottoms of his suit cases. This gold had it's destination of the bank house of Wohl & Co. in Zurich where Mr. Landau is a staff member. But in another case there was a similar importation smuggling gold to Switzerland by a certain Mr. Tannenbaum, also for the same bank house. Against Mr. Landau and Mr. Tannenbaum criminal procedures are initiated because of the violation of customs regulations."
50 years later Mr. Landau is rejecting any reproach having smuggled anything, and he is even more rejecting the reproach of being involved into a criminal procedure. He only can imagine that a currier at the national border was indicating him as a receiver. It's not important which version is right now - [one has to know: Swiss police and Swiss justice like to invent criminal stories against foreigners, above all when their victims are Jews or Germans] - but the smuggle story is characteristic for this time.
[Germany tightening currency regulations against Swiss smugglers step by step]
[Smuggling of currency against tight currency regulations]
Because "hot money" of Nazi victims [in collaboration with the criminal Zionist organizations] was coming to Switzerland in big quantities, but smuggling was not at all simple. Almost all European countries had more or less tight currency regulations, and the assets could not be shifted simply over the borders. Shifting of capital abroad was fined hardly. Thus the emergency situation provoked more fantasy with different techniques smuggling fortunes to Switzerland.
The most simple methods were for the stinking rich Jewish families. International contacts and nets of companies made it possible for them to shift their fortunes with juridical special constructions. A method which was know and feared by the Nazis.
[Example: capital transfer of rich Jewish families - Petschek family with a coal mine in CSSR - Swiss founding holdings hiding Jewish assets from Swiss law]
The next case is a good visual instruction. Czech Petschek family had a trust working in Germany and Czechoslovakia with several coal mines. Aryanization of the trust was declared a matter of the boss. Mr. Hermann Göring personally wanted to have these coal mines enlarging his industrial empire. But the so called "negotiations" about modalities and handover were delaying because the owner did not want to sell at any price. They were provoking a showdown. Whereas at the end the Petschek family were the looser within the aryanization process the Germans were afraid at the beginning of 1938 that the execution of their projected robbery could be without success. "In the meantime (...) the family of Ignaz Petschek would begin [p.40] to found sham companies in Switzerland and Holland. There should not be lost any time any more because the Petschek company will have shifted their whole fortune on foreign companies, a procedure called 'smoke screening' ('Einnebelung') by the German authorities". This writes Holocaust expert Raul Hilberg in his book "The Destruction of the European Jews" ("Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden").
These sham companies were nothing but holdings installed by Swiss agents. There was a real boom of founding such holdings in Switzerland in those times. National Bank of Switzerland had no chance with their fight against foreign "hot money". The crusade of the national monetary authorities of Switzerland was supporting the political action of Berlin. By the Gentleman's Agreement with the banks many people persecuted by the Nazis had to pay high commissions and had to resign to interests they urgently needed. And:
The idea of SNB General Director Paul Rossy of an urgent federal resolution against the foreign hot money had also provoked the control of the sham companies respectively of the new holdings. In July 1940 there was one more proposal in this kind, now the sender was the Third Reich.
[1940: Berlin pleading an authorization requirement for shifting capital to Swiss or "Americans"]
After the capitulation of France, of Belgium, of Holland, and of Norway [and Denmark] the Nazis wanted not to have any more any problems with aryanizations like the Petschek case. They were making pressure against the [officially] neutral states with the idea installing an authorization requirement for shifting of fortunes to Swiss or American people so these funds and companies could not be withhold to German [and Zionist!] influence. The threat was directly indicated: Shifting assets which had occurred after the beginning of the war [since September 1939] should not be acknowledged as legal actions. In the management board of Swiss National Bank the responsibles were racking their brains about the technical problems which provoked this wish of a friendly neighboring state - there was no political resistance at all.
[Economical boycott of the "U.S.A." against Germany since 1933 is never mentioned. But all measures against Jews were officially the response against this economical boycott. But when Hitler had aryanized the Jews and had directly worked with them in the war than much transport capacity had been saved for other purposes...]
Here is the excerpt of the minutes from the directorate from October 31, 1940:
"After Germany has sent us the idea the regulation of sharing within big economical projects comes into our focus (concerning economical companies of the sectors of agriculture, industries or mining). The main role would play systematically the involvement by possession of stocks. A control (which would be incomplete because it would refer only to the relation of the company to the buyer) is only possible during the handover [p.41] of registered stocks by the installation of a stock book. With bearer stocks there is not such a possibility and the realization of the German idea converting them into registered stocks being stamped by the Swiss authorities cannot be performed."
During this meeting also a representative of Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs was present confessing the ineffectiveness of Swiss diplomacy in this matter. He remarked that there could not be reached anything with further negotiations by the German embassy. He would rather like when the directorate would see the possibility to contact the National Bank of Germany (Reichsbank) directly referring to the indication that the idea of a Swiss law with the wanted content would not be possible to realize. Reichsbank would have to see that such a law would have a retroactive effect for Swiss fortunes in the "United States of America" which would be not desirable for the Reichsbank either.
A short time later the leadership of Swiss National Bank was discussing this matter with the vice president of Reichsbank Emil Puhl. But this initiative of the Germans seems to have fizzled out at the end. There was no further discussion in the directorate about this matter any more at least.
[Company in Switzerland - fortunes credited in Switzerland - "non Aryans following the good"]
The method with the sham companies could only be applied by some big Jewish bankers and businessmen. Merchants and producers of the middle class owning one a company in their home land had to think about other possibilities. Companies working with exportations also having Swiss companies as their clients could install their fortunes in Switzerland with simple tricks. Under the condition that the Swiss partner was collaborating there were bills for goods which simply were not payed but the Swiss partner was keeping the amount in Switzerland for the Jewish supplier who was preparing his emigration. German Reichsbank was calling this procedure "non Aryans following the good" ("Nichtarier reist der Ware nach").
In December 1934 the total of the not payed bills for these goods - which was a practice also with other countries - was already 164 million Reichsmark. In March 1935 the total of the not payed bill was 231 million, and at the end of September the total had risen to 305 million Reichsmark. The intention [p.42] of the Jews was clear. After the projected emigration or flight the money should be handed over at the office of the corresponding company.
[Evading of Nazi exportation control for currency - evading of soft exchange rates of Reichsmark - evading Reich Flight Tax]
The technique sending goods for credit was a difficult matter. There were loop holes within the German control of currency, but there was always the danger for being detected. Any lawsuit because of violation of currency regulations like the case of Richard Katz had to be evaded because with German law the currency profit made by the exportation had fallen to the Reichsbank. Exporters only got the equivalent in Reichsmark. Additionally the heavy Reich Flight Tax had to be evaded. This tax had been introduced on December 8, 1931, for all members of Germany who wanted to emigrate. At the beginning persons were affected having a fortune of over 200,000 Reichsmark on January 1, 1931, or a regular income every year of more than 20,000 Reichsmark. After Hitler's takeover many German Jews wanted to emigrate and the tax regulations were broadened to more people. Since spring 1934 already a fortune of 50,000 Reichsmark was affected by the Flight Tax, with a share of 25% of the taxable fortune. At the end with this mean the Nazis were confiscating a total of 900 million Reichsmark from 1,000s of Jewish emigrants.
[Smuggling by mail]
If emigration or not, considering the laws of currency with high taxes, considering the Flight Tax and other taxes most of Jews only had one solution brining their fortune to safety: They were concealing their fortunes from any tax. They had cash, they had gold, they had jewelry, they had commercial papers (CPs) etc. Agents were needed smuggling all this over the national border depositing the goods at a bank or in the house of familiars. And where was a demand also a market was created fast. Some Jews were smuggling their own goods having much courage sending for example golden rings in baking powder in letters by mail to Swiss friends, or they were personally going to Switzerland passing the green line.
[Case: smuggler of fortune Wegener - a German lawyer with an own bank in Switzerland]
[The "fortune smuggler" to Switzerland - nationalized Swiss Hans Wegener founding a flight office and an "advisory office" for Germans and for German Jews in Zurich - and a flight bank in Lucerne - and "investments" into properties]
But many were ordering services for smuggling fortunes. The provisions and fees were horribly high from 10 to 20 per cent of the smuggles fortune. Among other countries they also came to Switzerland. Nationalized Swiss and original German Mr. Hans Wegener had had a feeling for the Jewish emergency situation early already. After his studies of law - he was a son of an old Prussian officers family [p.43] - was achieving to be a local layer in a local court, and he was a lecturer and writer in juridical matters. During the first World War he was working for German military justice. Later he was explaining to the Swiss authorities that had had changed to Freiburg im Breisgau then and had had a social work, respectively "he was working saving the pensioners and middle class from the threatening collapse". Obviously this crisis management was not very profitable. In 1924 Wegener was changing his domicile again and now also the country.
Since these days he was living in Lucerne together with his family where he had been nationalized being a Swiss in spring 1930. The louder the brown music was in Germany the more his idea for a big business was becoming actual. His experience with German authorities and law should be the base for the future income. About 1 1/2 years before the takeover by Hitler he was opening an office for "German Swiss Consulting in Law and Economy" at Stocker Street 31 in Zurich. But this was only the beginning. This office was not enough for shifting fortunes in a big style but an organization was needed. Some months later together with Zurich lawyer Albert Egli Wegener was founding an "Association of Private Creditors of Germany (Defense organization against the backlash of German Emergency Law)" as it was described in the Swiss commercial register. The last and decisive step was inspired by his personal friends. Mr. Wegener in Lucerne had regular contact with a Swiss banker who had driven his own bank into the ruin some years before. But the know how of this failed friend was good enough yet for the foundation of a new institute. The new bank was Guaranty & Credit Bank AG with it's headquarter at Hirschmatt Street 13 in Lucerne. The purpose of the company was: All kinds of banking and credits, above all takeovers of guaranties.
Jewish clients for his hot money machine were mediated partly by a real estate broker in Zurich, Georg Schwabe. Just a real estate merchant was the mediator, and this is not a surprise. There were many Jews not only giving money to banks but they were also buying real estate. The possession was more simple to camouflage and was hardly leaving any marks. The presentation at the land office was performed by the Swiss real estate broker acting as an agent. In other cases stocks of real estate companies were purchased and anonymity of the investor was even more easy to [p.44] safe. For any transaction Mr. Wegener took 10% of the shifted fortune. The lawyer was often heading to Germany directly concluding the correspondent treaties. This was a risky method and after some months this should be stopped.
[Supplement: In September 1933 Nazi Germany was confiscating all foreign fortune in Germany, also billions of Swiss investments. Two years later "Aryanizations" were performed and German companies were also "given" to Swiss friends, just as a compensation. Swiss policy was supporting the trade with Nazi Germany with a "free credit": Third Reich got credit from Switzerland without limits].
[Detention of Wegener in Nazi Germany - 100,000s or millions of Reichsmark shifted to Switzerland - 10 years of penal prison]
Now Wegener was dreaming of big money, but German authorities were not sleeping. In late summer of 1933 this dream was stopped. Nazi government had installed just half a year ago and unmasking of Swiss fortune smuggler was a good topic for them to present their power. They wanted to make an example. Juridical press office was presenting this case in big articles exploiting the case:
"Customs investigation office in Berlin has achieved to detect a big connection for currency smuggling in collaboration with the customs investigation offices in Freiburg and Stuttgart. The main culprit was detained and is a former lawyer of a local German court, Mr. Dr. Wegener. Dr. Wegener was nationalized for being a Swiss now and was shifting German fortunes abroad systematically. In Zurich and Lucerne he had two advisory offices for German emigrants, above all with Jewish origin. At the same time he had founded a Guarantee Bank and was shifting the fortunes of his customers there. Further more he had good connections helping him to shift more fortunes in Germany from emigrants, and as a former German lawyer he was spreading lies and faked rumors about German economy, about political conditions in Germany urging for fast shifting of values abroad. In Berlin he was collaborating with the stockbrokers Mr. Ernst Strohheim and Mr. Erich Michaelis who were also detained. Under the pressure of the proofs Mr. Dr. Wegener was confessing his faults already having shifted fortunes of 100,000s. But this may be only a little fraction of the transactions. On the base of Wegener's indications more persons were arrested."
German judges were condemning Mr. Wegener to the highest penalty which was possible: Ten years of penal workhouse and a fine of 100,000 Reichsmark. Mr. Wegener was staying through the penal system for a long time. Swiss Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Eidgenössisches Politisches Departement) was stating to his wife Mrs. Wegener in 1935 in a dry officialese that her husband had been interned into a German sanatorium [p.45] because of "hallucinations" and of "religious mad ideas". The Germans were working well. A short time before the outbreak of the war they were shifting him over the national border to Switzerland at Kreuzlingen. Mr. Wegener was a broken man now, his health had reached an end. His bank in Lucerne had been liquidated in 1935 already, and a short time before his partner had shifted the headquarter from Lucerne to Zurich yet. Where the funds of his Jewish clients had been disappeared is unknown. Two variations may be possible: Either they were administered by Zurich lawyer Ernst Schuppli, the last member of the management board of the Guarantee & Credit Bank, or the funds were handed over to Nazi Germany.
[Fortune smuggler with suit cases with doubled bottoms]
[Always more hot money from the NS regime - Swiss fortune smugglers in the "time of doubled bottoms" - Jews selling Reichsmark in masses in Switzerland for currency exchange]
Nazi terrorism was forcing more and more persecuted people to save their fortunes abroad in a safe place. Accordingly also Swiss people were managing smuggling business more and more, but it was always dangerous. Little medium smugglers were no professionals - like Wegener was - and they had not detailed infrastructure. They were smuggling hot good simply in their own suit case passing the national border. One had luck, others landed in Germany in jail. This was the time of doubled bottoms [transports of gold or Reichsmark in cash] and this smuggling action was having effect in Switzerland fast and this was also watched by the authorities of the Third Reich. German embassy in Paris was watching in spring 1933 already a striking falling rate of Reichsmark. In a telegram of April 7 to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt) in Berlin the possible causes were described which were discussed by French financial analysts. There was the behavior of the Reichsbank, and also Switzerland was a topic:
"... Point 2: there is an exportation of capital by German Jews offering high quantities of Reichsmark in Switzerland."
According to this report always higher quantities of smuggled Reichsmark bank notes were smuggled to Switzerland. By the time also German silver coins came in and Swiss National Bank was informing Reichsbank in 1935 immediately:
"According to confidential news of Swiss National Bank also a bigger commerce of German silver coins can be watched abroad (...). The offer comes obviously from hot money. Disagio is only about 32 per cent actually."
German Reichsbank bankers in Berlin were in a bad mood considering that German Jewish and other fortunes had not been taxed for bringing them abroad and additionally could be converted easily into good currency in Switzerland.
[Above all because at the same time Jewish World Congress had called all Jewish organizations to boycott Germany and had called for a war against Germany, having many bad effects for Germany indeed].
In a certain way free market was neutralizing the raid of the German state [p.46].
[Prohibition of commerce for Reichsmark bank notes - Reichsmark landing with a bad exchange rate on the black market]
After the Flight Tax and after having installed harsh currency regulations there had to be installed one more obstacle hindering the flight of capital. The loop hole of the Alps should be locked by the help of Swiss law. And this was the result: On July 13, 1935 Swiss Ministry of Economy (Volkswirtschaftsdepartement) was installing a prohibition of exchange of Reichsmark bank notes. The official justification was "abuse of German Swiss travel agreement". This meant concretely: The agreement with Germany controlling the currency exchange with the so called clearing agreement should not be possible to be avoided any more. German tourists and Swiss importers should not get cheap Reichsmark bank notes any more, and the smuggler's market was reduced.
[Smuggling of Reichsmark to Germany - prohibition of re-importation of Reichsmark to Germany - smuggling in a circle]
The new legislations was changing the mechanism of the illegal smuggling activities between the two countries from one day to another. Because of the prohibition of exchange of Reichsmark bank notes in Switzerland Reichsmark could be exchanged only on the black market for a bad rate. These bank notes were brought back to Germany for German silver coins and then the silver coins were flowing secretly back. The profit was the difference between the black market price for smuggled bank notes and the higher, official price for silver. The statal reaction was not waiting for a long time. In December 1935 Berlin was even prohibiting any re-importation of German cash into Germany:
"We deplore that under these circumstances we are not capable any more to maintain our commitment of March 7, 1932. For evading difficulties during a provisional time we are ready to credit Reichsmark bank notes yet when you get this document. We would like to plead to transfer the bank notes promptly. Further more delivery of Reichsmark bank notes cannot be handled any more because the law permits only the storage of those bank notes on blocked accounts." This was the letter of Reichsbank to the Swiss National Bank on December 4.
But the new law was evaded anyway again, this time with a so called smuggling in a circle. Not important from which side - now there was only a little quantity free and all other shifting [p.47] of Reichsmark was illegal and dangerous correspondingly. But the business was going on for years.
[Reichsmark woman smuggler detained - Swiss captives are manipulated and are abused as a decoy against Jews in Germany]
In the middle of 1939 a legal guardian from Saint Gallen was describing the corresponding experience of his protected person to the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs (EPD):
"She had tried to bring German banknotes - in a certain quantity which is not known to me - to Germany acting for a third person, and then she tried to exchange the bank notes in Germany for silver. Then she tried to engage another person and together they wanted to bring the silver to Switzerland which is more worth than the bank notes. But the experiment was a failure and the lady (...) was hit by the full strength of the German currency law."
In different cases German customs investigation offices were also using the Swiss with their smuggling sports activity. They were extorting Swiss detainees and were installing them as a decoy. There was the promise of a dismissal with a provision inclusive. Then they sent them as couriers to the Jews who were on a list of future culprits for violation of currency regulations. As soon as the victim was accepting the offer of the Swiss agent had fixed the handover of the hidden reserves the investigators were detaining the victim. The Jews was detained and the cash money was confiscated.
[since 1938: bunches with fresh Reichsmark in Switzerland]
Surprisingly not only the Jews and their agents or other private persons were using the Swiss market for getting safe currency with smuggled Reichsmark bank notes. But in summer 1938 there were more and more fresh Reichsmark bank notes in bunches arriving at the banks in Zurich and in Basel, but one had not to search a long time about the origin of these bunches at the customs border directorate station of Schaffhausen [north of Switzerland]. Here is an internal report:
"There was only the question how these bunches of new Reichsmark bank notes with current numbers with the control band of Reichsbank could come from Germany abroad because such quantities were never handed out to private persons? There is the strong suggestion that this money was shifted with the agreement of the authorities or of NSDAP for being sold abroad getting hard currency for the Reich in this manner." The Nazis were undermining their own rules.
[Reichsmark, Austrian shilling - objects of value, paintings, and gold]
Reichsmark bank notes from Germany were only a little part of the fortunes arriving Switzerland. By the time also other currencies came as for example the Austrian shilling never being limited in Switzerland by any regulation. Additionally all possible objects of value were shifted to Switzerland like paintings, gold, and [p.48] above all jewelries from all possible countries, above all from the east European countries.
In these cases when the fortunes were smuggled by the Jews themselves - not deposed by agents with familiar members or in banks - Swiss merchants were skimming in many ways. The emigrants needed cash at any price, and therefore their negotiating position was very weak. Different merchants of arts and antiquities were recognizing instantly the emergency situation of their clients and made their business of life with them.
"There were many trickeries", Zurich arts merchant Max Bollag is remembering. According to rumors above all some galleries of Basel and Zurich were said having got paintings for next to nothing, and sellings after the war brought enormous profits. Need for currency of the emigrants was finally provoking in 1940 that the directorate of Swiss National Bank was speaking about this topic.
"Department Nº III is indicating that in the last few months there was more need for currency - provoked by emigrated Israelis - with the goal to sell properties and other objects of value. With the equivalent dollars are wanted. Thus there is for example from the side of Union Bank of Switzerland a petition for getting dollars with a value of 1.3 to 1.4 million Swiss Francs."
[End of the 1930s: new camouflage of smuggling of fortunes and objects of value in Switzerland - law against Jewish properties]
There was smuggling from time to time, and at the end of the 1930s managing smuggling of Jewish fortunes like an industry was impossible, and the risk was enormous. Compared with the times of Mr. Hans Wegener spectacular methods and camouflage were needed now. Gestapo was controlling any movement of potential Jewish clients now and the well organized customs investigation offices knew - after having got much experience - almost every trick. Additionally on February 21, 1939, Göring was signing a resolution against Jews in the Reich: Jews had to hand over all purchased objects of value and jewelries within two weeks to the authorities. This resolution provoked even a death penalty for the possession of hidden jewelry now. The affair of Walter Welti* [name changed] shows that many fortunes of persecuted people were reaching Switzerland yet in this risky situation. [p.49]
[Fortune smuggler Walter Welti - a train conductor in the night train with a Swiss Jewish woman]
[Swiss Jewish woman xy from Lucerne making propaganda for smuggle with German Jews in Berlin - and Swiss train conductor Walter Welti smuggling the money from Berlin to Switzerland in the night train]
Walter Welti had made his career in Berlin. He was a Swiss foreigner there but was a boss and staff in personal union. Commonly with his partner he was the leader of a car rental company. At the same time he had a job with the railway. And this railway job brought much profit because Welti was the train conductor of a night train and he had a very special position there. This salary was modest in fact, but with this position there was a good additional income. The staff of international trains was just vulnerable for god smuggling businesses. If there was the waiter of the dining car of the German company "Mitropa" of if there was the night conductor in the night train, they had a good relation with the custom inspectors and they were almost calling each other with their personal names. Passing the national border was a daily routine. The train staff was mostly only simply controlled or not at all. Considering the normal provisions in this professional sector for illegal shifting of fortunes these professionals were making a little fortune with this business.
Mr. Welti was collaborating with the Jewish woman Mrs. Luise Zwirn* [name changed] from Lucerne. She was regularly traveling to Germany and she was making propaganda for new clients. From different friends and familiars Mrs. Zwirn got jewelry and cash which the affected wanted to bring to a safe place in Switzerland. Welti was taking the parcel with the objects and was hiding it in his sleeping wagon. Near the border at Basel [between Baden Station and Swiss Station] he gave the parcel back to Mrs. Zwirn and she was continuing her travel for Zurich. The secret commerce was going on without difficulties. Both were concealed. But one day the situation was changing completely. Suddenly there was an unknown confidant who had watched the big business of the little conductor. And the responsible authorities got a fatal advice.
[1939: an anonymous latter denouncing the smuggling activity of the conductor]
On April 12, 1939, Berlin letter box of customs investigation office got an anonymous letter:
"The conductor of the international sleeping train company, Mr. Walter Welti, domicile in Berlin, Swiss citizen, who is serving among others the trip from Berlin to Nice passing Switzerland, is using his trips for transports of hidden Jewish flight capital to Switzerland in his sleeping coach. According to indications he gets the money from a Swiss Jewish woman from Lucerne who is traveling to Berlin from time to time where she is collecting funds. Indications say that coming back from Berlin to Switzerland she is using the train and the coach where Mr. Welti is having his service. Additionally indications say that Mr. Welti is also assisting a Polish Jew Mr. B. shifting fortunes. Indications say that Mr. Welti [p.50] gets for his activity 5% of the shifted amounts. Indications say that he has used the profits in Berlin purchasing some cars renting them. The new arrival of this Swiss Jewish woman can be expected in the next few days." At this time the investigators could rely on the denunciations of Hitler's willing spies yet. The indications of the hobby agents were mostly a deadly safe matter for all parts. The officials were correspondingly initiating a fast and a profound hunting.
[The observation - an "action" in the night train - a torn document thrown by the window - a detention in Freiburg im Breisgau]
A short time after getting this anonymous letter several members of the customs investigation office were watching Mr. Welti's flat 24 hours during day and night. On April 20 the first part of the suspicion was confirmed already. Mrs. Luise Zwirn was coming without thinking anything to the Fehrbelliner Street entering the house number ten where Welti was living. This was the secret meeting, not lasting a long time. After half an hour she was leaving the flat again and was also observed then. "She was going from Fehrbelliner Street to Schöneberg District, Freiherr von Stein Street Nº 7. She was leaving this house around at 4 pm with a woman. Then she got a taxi and they were driving to Bavaria Square (Bayrischer Platz)", the spies were reporting. The aim of the German officials was clear. They wanted to catch Mrs. Zwirn and Mr. Welti in the act. For this project they had to know the service plan of Mr. Welti. It was the suggestion that the hot goods were shifted to Switzerland during his next working days.
And this opportunity came soon. According to a spy of sleeping train company Mr. Welti was getting his next service at April 23 on the Train from Berlin to Freiburg, Basel, and Nice, departure from Hitchhiker Station (Anhalter Bahnhof) at 10:42 pm. The investigators Adam and Matthis [typical names from central Switzerland] were driving this night with their car to Francfort on the Main and were entering the train then. On the trip to Heidelberg they were controlling the tickets of the guests. Mr. Welti was not nervous yet. But the investigators could see fast that Mrs. Zwirn had come from Switzerland to Germany and she was the only one going back to Zurich. Now Adam and Matthis took the resolution to seal the deal. They were analyzing the train office of Mr. Welti completely, even the mirror of the wall was taken away. But this action now had no success. They could not find anything. Additionally time was running out. The train was approaching to Freiburg im Breisgau, the last station before Basel where they could not perform any detention. Whereas [p.51] without any proof in their hands both ordered Mrs. Luise Zwirn to get ready and to open the compartment. During this the second investigator was in the next compartment at the window, and this was bad for the Swiss woman. Because in this moment it was clear for her that she had to get rid of charging material before the investigation could be performed. In her panic she was throwing several pieces of paper out of the window, just in front of the eyes of the investigator in the neighboring compartment. Now both investigators had their pretext at least for a detention of Mr. Welti and Mrs. Zwirn. Both had to get out of the train in Freiburg im Breisgau, but nothing could be found from the hot money yet. German investigators could only find some parts of the torn document which was thrown out of the window by Mrs. Zwirn, and they were recomposing it. It was a letter to a Swiss agent:
Original in German:
"Hierdurch teilen wir Ihnen mit, dass (...) heute bei uns (...) in Noten einbezahlt hat, mit der ausdrücklichen Bestimmung, dass Sie über den Betrag ausschliesslich zum Zwecke der Auswanderung nach Übersee verfügen können und zwar erst dann, wenn Ihr Pass den Immigrationsstempel trägt und Sie ausländischen, nicht deutschen Boden betreten haben.
Sie können jederzeit darüber verfügen, wenn es sich darum handelt, dass der Betrag auf eine andere Bank ausserhalb der Schweiz überwiesen wird.
diese Zurverfügungsstellung der...... zu Ihren Gunsten ist gültig auf ein Jahr."
"To Mr. Carl Kluch* [name changed], Berlin W. 30, Carl Schrader Street 12
By this document we are communicating you that today in our office (...) was paying (...) bank notes with the distinct order that you will get this amount only for the purpose of an emigration to over seas, and only when your passport has got the immigration stamp, and when you are on foreign, not German soil.
You can dispose of it at any time when it's your project that this amount should be transfered to another bank outside of Switzerland.
This provision of... in your favor is valid for one year."
[Incredible lies of the Swiss conductor Mr. Welti to the German investigation authorities]
Considering the facts that the investigation authorities could not show any proof the detained Mr. Welti was assuming full risk. During the first interrogation in Freiburg he was denying any reproach and indicated that he did not know Mrs. Luise Zwirn at all. After having confronted him with the facts that Mrs. Zwirn had been in his flat Mr. Welti decided to save himself denouncing the Swiss Jewish woman completely. He was constructing a wild story now. Allegedly he was giving his address to everybody who was giving him high tips thus these "good passengers" could inform themselves when and in which coach he was doing his service. According to Welti also this passenger from Lucerne was one of these guests. "Then Mrs. Zwirn has come several times to my flat and tried to convince me first to shift somebody to Switzerland because I had a Swiss passport and a good familiar circle. I did not know the name of this person [p.52]. When I refused she she had the idea pleading for help shifting jewelry and objects of value and cash over the border. I was strictly denying. (...) Last Thursday (April 20, 1939) Mrs. Zwirn was convincing me to shift a suit case over the border secretly. This was a suit case of medium size with objects of silver and jewelry and eventually also with cash. She wanted to give me an address where I should fetch the suit case in Berlin. But I was rejecting also this project", Mr. Welti said according to the investigation minutes.
But this Swiss man had a problem. His guest having rejected all "projects" from her allegedly did not have the same cold character like Mr. Walter Welti. After several interrogations within two days Mrs. Luise Zwirn was giving up and was confessing a part of the story. She confessed having received hot money from Jews in Berlin and in Freiburg and having shifted it in collaboration with Mr. Welti to Switzerland. Her only salvation was the trial to indicate as little smuggled sums as possible. This trial had to fail of course. Because everybody knew that there had been smuggled not only some hundred Marks when the risk was that enormous and when the provisions for the smugglers were that high. Only collective transports with a value of several 1,000 Reichsmark were giving a good profit.
After the interrogations of Mrs. Zwirn the investigators were not believing one single word any more from Mr. Welti. There were missing the smuggled goods yet and the Swiss man was presenting himself as a strong national socialist. But the indications were against him. But these were indications that only were rated valuable by Nazi justice.
"Further on Mr. Welti confessed that he had denounced a smuggling action by a Jewish person he knew at the customs investigation office in Berlin in 1933 or 1934. Answering the reproach why he had not also denounce Mrs. Zwirn he could not give any answer. When he would be - as he was confirming several times to the investigating officers - more a German than a Swiss and when he would be a national socialist in his heart then he had denounced her in any case", the investigators were writing. And for them also the habit being a big manager was one more suspicion with this simple conductor with a low salary.
"As one more point of charge against Mr. Welti has to be considered that on January 1, 1939, he was opening a car rental service with five cars. According to his indications 6,000 RM were from his side for this company. His [p.53] partner, a lorry driver (!) Tabisch* [name changed] is said having given 2,000 RM for this business. Mr. Welti indicates that his capital had come in Swiss Francs when he had settled in Germany. Then he had exchanged it and he had stored it in a steel box and only he had the key for it allegedly. His wife was not informed about the height of the amount in the steel box allegedly.
These indications do not seem credible at all because no economically thinking human being is storing an amount of several thousand Marks during 12 to 13 years without interests in the flat not communicating anything to the bride."
[The briefcase is found in Nizza - full of bank notes, coins and jewelry - the condemnation]
Only some days later Mr. Walter Welti and Mrs. Luise Zwirn were confronted with the truth. By a coincidence the customs inspectors had not only some indications in their hands. But the hot money for which the Germans were searching for was detected. At the final station in Nice the sleeping coaches were cleaned regularly. And in the compartment 7/8 in a bed box under the mattress and under some blankets the cleaning staff found a black briefcase of leather. The project hat been to given this briefcase to Mrs. Zwirn in Basel again. This bag was full of bunches of bank notes, coins and jewelry. Now the proofs were there and the hard law suit should come. Any plea for mercy was useless which was written by the bride of Walter Welti to Adolf Hitler. On December 5, 1939, this criminal Swiss night conductor was condemned to penalty of four years of penal workhouse and to a fine of 30,000 Reichsmark.
"The investigation of the proofs got the result that Mr. Welti was abusing his position as a night train conductor shifting money and objects of value of at least 21,120 RM abroad. This is an especially heavy case of violation of currency regulations. Additionally is considered that Mr. Welti was not only abusing the trust of the officers of the border service, but he was also abusing the right of foreigners in Germany in a very bad way. Instead of having a good income being an Aryan and having a good life with bride and children he was profiting for the own purpose helping Jews making an own profit with it exporting values from Germany",
these were the words of the grounds for the judgment of the court of Berlin. Mrs. Luise Zwirn who had also to suffer in the detention center of Moabit District had more luck. She was only found guilty [p.54]
in two points finally. She had to stay in a penal workhouse for 2 1/2 years and had to pay a fine of 16,000 Reichsmark. But Nazi judges were condemning her morally heavily. "She was helping her racial brethren in April 1939, but instead of her mercy she did not stop to convert her 'help' into a business getting partly high provisions. She was working with her 'aid' not only for friends and familiars, but for anyone who was shown to her. Additionally she was even working in a manner thus many Jews were presented to her who wanted to give assets and other values abroad."
[1,000s of lawsuits because of currency regulations - many are in jail for life - merchant Levy ending in the cc of Sachsenhausen]
Of course the Jewish customers for smuggling were not left out in Germany. There were 1,000s of lawsuits because of the violation of currency regulations. Many of them never could leave the jail any ore whereas they had served their prison term since a long time already. For them a death penalty was only a question of months for them. In the affair with Mr. Welti the Nazis had foreseen a special treatment for the Jewish merchant Maz Israel Levy* [name changed]. Mr. Levy had served his sentence of seven months in jail officially and paying a fine of 3,000 Reichsmark officially, but he should not be alive for his dismissal any more. Gestapo had communicated to the local court of Berlin five months ago already that Mr. Levy would not be dismissed but "he has to be transferred to the police prison". For Mr. Levy this was the second but lust station before his death. After several weeks of presumed torture Gestapo was transporting him in the end of 1939 or in the beginning of 1940 to the town of Oranienburg, a suburb of Berlin and the secret capital of the SS of Heinrich Himmler. Some steps next to the dwelling houses was the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. It was one of the first hells of "Work for Free" of the Third Reich.
At the beginning this camp was not projected to be a death camp, but there was a shooting facility killing people by a shot in the neck also in Sachsenhausen and thousands of Jews were murdered there by shooting or by medical experiments [...]. Levy was one of them. He died on February 14, 1940.
[Often the hot money came to Switzerland - but the owners go to German prisons never leaving them again]
If Mr. Welti had shifted for him fortune to Switzerland during an earlier time is not known. What is sure that until the end of WWII [p.55] millions were suffering the fate of Levy. Many of them were hoping for an emigration or a flight possibility during a long time yet. with their death also these persons were silent for decisive information about the place of their fortunes for ever. Their justified caution and their mischief to anything and anybody was showing the consequences that near family members and even own children were left without any knowledge about the place of the fortune. Most of them only knew about "an account in Switzerland". There were banks without limits, assurances, lawyers, custom free deposits and private persons being the trustees of fortunes without possessors as it seemed and there was nobody asking for it as it seemed.
According to the information of Mr. Max Bollag the list of the administrators of nachrichtenlose fortunes has to be broadened yet.
"In the big hotels of Zurich where the [rich] emigrants were going in and out, there were masses of objects of value stored in the safes of the hotels. There is nobody who wants to know something about these fortunes any more." [p.56]
[Since 1945 Swiss policy did not want to know ANYTHING about this hot money but the Swiss banksters, lawyers and directors were serving themselves with the dormant accounts and safes and they were robbing everything. Switzerland was NEVER denazified either. And thanks to the Iron Curtain in Europe and to the East West Conflict and since the blockage of Berlin in 1948 Switzerland had new possibilities for making propaganda for an "account in Switzerland"...]