Cover image for The last deposit : Swiss banks and Holocaust victims' accounts
The last deposit : Swiss banks and Holocaust victims' accounts
Levin, Itamar.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Piḳadon aḥaron. English
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 250 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1420 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HG3204 .L4813 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The injustices committed against millions of Europe's Jews did not end with the fall of the Third Reich. Long after the Nazis had seized the belongings of Holocaust victims, Swiss banks concealed and appropriated their assets, demanding that their survivors produce the death certificates or banking records of the depositors in order to claim their family's property--demands that were usually impossible for the petitioners to meet. Now the full account of the Holocaust deposits affair is revealed by the journalist who first broke the story in 1995. Relying on archival and contemporary sources, Itamar Levin describes the Jewish people's decades-long effort to return death camp victims' assets to their rightful heirs. Levin also uncovers the truth about the behavior of Swiss banking institutions, their complicity with the Nazis, and their formidable power over even their own neutral government.

From the first attempt to settle the fate of German property in neutral countries at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, through the heated negotiations following publication of Levin's investigative article in 1995, to the Swiss banks' ultimate agreement to a $1.25 billion payment in 1997, the pursuit of restitution is a story of delaying tactics and legal complications of almost unimaginable dimensions. Terrified that the traditional and highly marketable wall of secrecy surrounding the Swiss banks would tumble and destroy the industry, the banks' managements were dismissive and uncooperative in determining the location and extent of the assets in question, forcing the United States, other European countries, and Jewish organizations worldwide to apply tremendous pressure for a just resolution. The details and the central characters involved in this struggle, as well as new information about Switzerland's controversial policies during World War II, are fascinating reading for anyone concerned with the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Author Notes

Itamar Levin is Deputy Editor in Chief, Globes--Israel's Business Newspaper. Levin has led the world's media in reporting and uncovering the fate of looted Jewish property in Europe. A frequent lecturer on the subject, Levin also is an advisor to various public institutions, including the Israeli government.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Levin, an Israeli journalist, has become an authority on the question of dormant Jewish funds in Swiss banks through his investigations for the Israeli business daily Globes, and he has also written The Last Chapter of the Holocaust? The Struggle Over the Restitution of Jewish Property in Europe. He shows the callousness of the Swiss banks both after the war and later on when the issue exploded in the early 1990s, as the banks first claimed to have 775 dormant accounts but then had to admit the number was closer to 64,000. Although the book was first published in Hebrew in 1998, the author has included some information from the Volcker Commission from early 1999. Tom Bower's Nazi Gold (LJ 5/15/97) is even more critical of Switzerland, especially of its activities during the war, but Bower did not use the Israeli archives that Levin did. For an account by an insider, libraries can consider Swiss Banks and Jewish Souls (Transaction, 1999) by Gregg J. Rickman, a former aide to former New York Senator Alphonse D'Amato. Recommended for all libraries.ÄJohn A. Drobnicki, York Coll., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Edgar Bronfman and Israel SingerAvraham Burg
Foreword: Struggle for the Restoration of Human Dignityp. ix
Foreword: No Greater Human Justicep. xi
Prefacep. xiii
General Notesp. xvii
1 "The Encompassing Fog" Europe's Jews Transferred Millions to Switzerlandp. 1
2 "Switzerland Will Examine Favorably" Victims' Money Was Designated for Refugee Rehabilitationp. 19
3 "Cruelly Ironic" Switzerland Exploits Property without Heirs for Its Own Purposesp. 32
4 "Crying And Screaming" A Dozen Years of Frustration with the Swiss Banks and Governmentp. 49
5 "Cold As Ice" Evading the Law for Restoration of Propertyp. 67
6 "We Go To War" A New Generation Takes on Righting the Wrongsp. 89
7 "It's The Principle" The Beginning of a Frontal Assault on the Banksp. 105
8 "The Jews Were Betrayed" The Battle Moves to the American Frontp. 123
9 "Opening In The Wall" Neutral Switzerland Served Nazi Interestsp. 140
10 "The Parties Will Cooperate" The Beginning of the Independent Investigation into the Deposits Affairp. 160
11 "Oppression And Blackmail" Serious Blunders Cause Switzerland a Series of Crisesp. 176
12 "Easing The Suffering" Steps Toward Absolving the Sins of the Pastp. 200
Notesp. 225
Bibliographyp. 239
Indexp. 243