Miriam Kleiman doesn't think anything is neutral about Switzerland. A senior researcher at the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll in Washington, D.C., Kleiman was the first person dispatched to Washington's National Archives to research the controversial issue of Jewish money held by Swiss banks during World War II -- money which many accuse the Swiss of failing to return to families of Holocaust survivors. "If money is the root of all evil, then Hitler was the greatest evil, and Swiss banks were the root," Kleiman noted during a speech, "Shattering the Neutrality Myth: The Inside Story of the Swiss Banks Investigation," at the Annenberg School for Communication last Thursday. More than 30 people attended the address, which was sponsored by the University's Holocaust Education Committee. Kleiman began her speech by discussing the history of Swiss involvement with Nazi Germany. During the war, Germany gave Jewish loot to Swiss banks in return for currency to finance the war. In her speech, Kleiman passed around copies of documents she uncovered, which she said revealed the extent of Swiss involvement in the war. According to Kleiman, Swiss cooperation included funds funneled directly to the Nazi war-machine. In addition, the Swiss government returned some Jewish refugees to the Nazis. Documents uncovered at the National Archives in Washington also revealed that Swiss bankers knew the real sources of Nazi loot. It is estimated that more than $6 billion -- not including the value of personal possessions taken from Holocaust victims -- was funneled into Swiss banks during the war. Kleiman also discussed the difficulty of going through the National Archives records. The records are not computerized and can't be scanned into a computer system, she said, describing the process as "tedious." Despite pressure from Congress and various Jewish organizations, Kleiman said the Swiss have actually done little to return the lost funds of Holocaust survivors. "It's tokenism," said Kleiman. "It's almost offensive." Kleiman also stressed the importance of Holocaust education. She urged members of the audience to talk to Holocaust survivors about their experiences. Engineering senior Shira Neustein described Kleiman's speech as "incredible." "I never knew something so small could turn into something so big," Neustein said. Kleiman concluded by expressing doubts as to whether the issue would ever fully be resolved to both sides' satisfaction. "The Holocaust survivors are getting older? it's a closing window of opportunity," she said. "I hope something is done. "It's not about money, its about justice," Kleiman added.Comments powered by Disqus
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