The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) has obtained and revealed a list of 12,000 Nazis who had been living in Argentina, many of whom held bank accounts with the predecessor of Credit Suisse.
The list of names, the existence of which was made public by the SWC office in Buenos Aires, includes the identities of Nazis who had made their way to Argentina from the 1930s onwards.
It shows how Germans in Argentina systematically funneled money from Germany to Switzerland via Argentina using the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, the predecessor of Credit Suisse.
The SWC stated that it had sent a letter to Credit Suisse Vice-President, Christian Küng, informing him of their belief that “that these dormant accounts hold monies looted from Jewish victims, under the Nuremberg Aryanization laws of the 1930s.”
The Los Angeles-based human rights organization added that it had knowledge of Nazi heirs now trying to access the accounts. The funds in question amount to around 35 million Swiss Francs (125 million NIS; $37 million), Argentine media have reported.
The SWC had additionally requested access to Credit Suisse archives “to settle this matter on behalf of the diminishing number of Holocaust survivors.”
In a statement, the SWC stated it had received the list from an Argentine prosecutor working in the former Buenos Aires Nazi headquarters. The documents were reportedly seized by Argentine police in the late 1930s or early 1940s amid efforts by the Argentine government at the time to rid the South American country of its Nazi presence.
In 1943, a government sympathetic to the Nazi regime seized power and proceeded to destroy documents relating to investigations into Nazis in Argentina. How the documents now seen by the SWC survived currently remains unknown.
Immigrants from Nazi Germany were first welcomed to Argentina in a large-scale manner by President José Félix Uriburu and his successor Agustín Pedro Justo. A change of government to an anti-Nazi President in 1938 led to the investigation into Nazi activities in Argentina which yielded the documents now obtained by the SWC.
After another change of power, the Nazi presence in the South American country was solidified under a fascist government which assisted Nazi war criminals in hiding and starting a new life in Argentina after the end of the Second World War.
The most prominent Nazi criminal known to have sought refuge in Argentina was Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was kidnapped by Mossad agents in 1960 having been provided with information from Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Eichmann was brought to Israel and, in 1962, was hanged in Tel Aviv having been convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in a criminal organization.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is named after the famous Nazi-hunter. The NGO conducts Holocaust research and describes itself as “confronting anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”