Switzerland was a neutral nation during the Second World War. Both before and after Hitler’s accession to power in Germany in 1933, Swiss banks appeared to provide a financial haven where foreigners at risk could safely deposit their funds. For decades after the war, though, Nazi victims and their families were told that if they were seeking property taken from them during the Holocaust, Swiss banks were not the place to look. The banks said that they had never held victims’ accounts; or had there ever been such accounts, they were no longer in existence; or if any accounts still remained, there were only a small number with minimal value; or whatever records might once have existed no longer were kept. They said that the person asking could receive no further information without providing proof of who the account owner was, how that person was related, and how that person died (even if at the hands of the Nazis, who did not generally hand out death certificates, although Swiss banks nevertheless often continued to demand such proof of death). Account owners and their heirs were turned away time and time again, but they did not forget and they did not give up. Finally, in the 1990s, they obtained a forum to pursue their property: the United States judicial system. Because of that forum, more than 458,400 Holocaust victims and heirs worldwide have received nearly $1.285 billion in compensation arising from the Holocaust-era activities of Swiss banks and other Swiss institutions.
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NOTE: All deadlines to file claims relating to the Swiss Banks Holocaust Settlement have expired.
Source: Holocaust Victims Assets Litigation.