THE SWISS, THE GOLD, AND THE DEAD by Jean Ziegler

THE SWISS, THE GOLD, AND THE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Swiss sociologist Ziegler (Geneva Univ.) excoriates the gnomes of Zurich, the bankers of Basle and all the rest of his countrymen who, he reveals, gave steady and material aid to the Third Reich. Now we have an important addition to the burgeoning body of material detailing the hypocritical “neutrality” of Swiss financier-politicians during and since WW II. Ziegler offers official documents, graphic Holocaust materials, personal recollections, and vivid character sketches that demonstrate the conflict in Europe was prolonged and hundreds of thousands of lives were lost because of Swiss cupidity. When hostilities started, Ziegler demonstrates, the Germans could not have sustained the costs of a long war with Reichmarks alone. Gold taken from central banks of conquered nations and from the teeth and fingers of Nazi victims was transported to Swiss banks in exchange for currency used to buy material essential to the German war effort. Ziegler shows that the Swiss knowingly laundered the stolen goods. They were delighted to take in Hitler’s loot, but not his victims. Desperate Jews were stopped at the border and returned to their captors for prompt incineration. After the war, at a Washington conference to sort out the mathematics, Hitler’s fences were models of affronted innocence. They still are. After half a century, while proofs of their old intransigence mount, they remain intransigent, yielding only what they must. As Ziegler says, “gnomes always confine themselves to admitting what cannot be denied—in other words, what the ‘damned’ foreigners can prove beyond doubt.” Of course, there were and are many whose principles extended beyond the veil of holy bank secrecy. But on the whole it’s a tale of bad faith and prejudice on a national scale, one not easy to discount given the significant evidence presented here. A solid and sober contribution to a growing subspecialty of wartime and Holocaust history, rightfully sardonic.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-100334-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998