800.515/10–1745: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland ( Harrison ) to the Secretary of State

4431. As indicated last paragraph my 4236, (repeated London 1416; Paris 698; Lisbon 70; Stockholm 42 and Madrid) September 28, and after concerting action with my British and French colleagues I have discussed with Mr. Petitpierre present unsatisfactory situation with regard to our efforts to unearth German assets in Switzerland and in particular our dissatisfaction with lack of cooperation on the part of Swiss officials and their apparent failure to implement the March agreement. I called his attention inter alia to certain specific instances in which we felt that there had been a failure to live up to [Page 910] the March commitments to comply with promises for exchange of information to prevent the dissipation of German blocked assets and to plug loopholes in the existing federal decrees. I also urged the desirability for closer collaboration and direct contact with the SCO (Swiss Compensation Office). To that end I handed Mr. Petitpierre informally, and my British colleague has done likewise, an aide-mémoire listing suggestions as to measures to be taken by the Swiss authorities as follows:

  • “1. To provide us in detail with the information procured by them as a result of the census of German assets and to provide for full exchange of information in the interim stages of investigation.
  • “2. To forbid with adequate penalties the alienation, hypothecation, conversion, removal or disposal of or any transfer of right in German or German controlled property without Allied approval to annul any such transactions already effected and in general permit the Allies to participate in the control through a licensing system of all transactions involving such property.
  • “3. To impose adequate penalties for failure to comply with the decrees and regulations with respect to German or German controlled property.
  • “4. To reduce present exemptions under the census decree relating to moveable property from the present limit of 25,000 francs to 10,000 francs.
  • “5. To establish a special tribunal to hear cases involving looted property, amend the statutes of limitation with respect to the recovery of stolen property for the purpose of assuring the rights of persons whose property was seized by the Germans, exceptionally in such cases to place the burden of proof upon the holders of looted property and to permit representations on behalf of dispossessed persons by their Governments.
  • “6. To require a declaration under the census regulations of all royalty, annuity, patent licenses and exploitation rights regardless of values.
  • “7. To require declarations with respect to the property of all individuals of German nationality without exception as well as all individuals who held German nationality at any time since January 1, 1937.
  • “8. To inspect safety deposit boxes held by or on behalf of Germans and communicate the results to the Allied authorities.
  • “9. It is understood that all the foregoing shall apply equally to Liechtenstein and is not intended to be all inclusive.”

Mr. Petitpierre took notes of the various points which I had made. He said the census would be expected [to] be completed by middle of next month and if progress appeared to have been slow and perhaps disappointing the magnitude and complexity of the task should not be overlooked. He assured me that he would give prompt consideration to our suggestions, some of which he already felt might be accepted and promised to discuss the matter with me further as soon as [Page 911] possible. In conclusion I pressed the urgency for effective action or otherwise our task would become increasingly difficult.

Repeated London 1455; Paris 719; Lisbon 74; Stockholm 45 and Madrid.

My French colleague is to present the matter likewise to Mr. Petitpierre.