Non-Jews bring new Holocaust suit against Swiss National Bank

The lawsuit focuses on Nazi-era victims from Yugoslavia and the ex-USSR. Keystone

A new class action lawsuit has been filed against the Swiss National Bank relating to the Holocaust era. This time, however, it is on behalf of 12 million non-Jewish civilians who are not covered by previous agreements.

This content was published on October 4, 2000 minutes

Tuesday's suit filed in San Francisco concerns civilian victims of the Nazis from the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The lawyers acting on behalf of the plaintiffs, Thomas Easton and Jonathan Levy, claim these people were unjustly excluded from the original Swiss Banks settlement worth $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion), agreed with Jewish groups.

Levy told swissinfo: "This all should have been settled as part of the main lawsuit, but because of political manipulation by the Jewish organisations - non-Jews were cut out of the class action."

The class action seeks compensation for wartime transactions, valued at SFr1.7 billion, carried out by the Swiss National Bank with its counterpart in Nazi Germany.

Levy said the plaintiffs were asking that this amount be studied, and that a smaller sum - of around SFr200 million - be awarded to them.

Easton and Levy accuse the Swiss of ultimately prolonging the Second World War by providing much-needed foreign currency for the Nazis.

They allege that the Swiss National Bank and other Swiss banks allowed the Nazis to exchange looted assets from non-Jews - including gold and silver collected from forced labourers, occupied territories and concentration camps - for hard currency.

In August, the two lawyers filed a similar lawsuit implicating the Swiss National Bank and the Vatican Bank in illicit dealings with Croatian Nazi collaborators.

by Juliet Linley

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