Treaty Affairs Files
The Head of the Swiss Delegation (Rappard) to the Heads of the American, French, and British Trade Delegations (Currie, Charquéraud, and Foot)
Gentlemen: On behalf of the Swiss Government, I have the honour to advise you as follows with respect to the financial matters discussed during the present negotiations:
The Swiss Government on its behalf and that of the Principality of Liechtenstein, affirms its decision to prevent the territory of Switzerland and that of the Principality from being used for the disposal, concealment, or reception of assets which may have been taken illegally or under duress during the war. It declares furthermore that, in the framework of the Swiss legislation as it stands today or as it will be completed in the future, every facility will be given to the dispossessed owners to claim in Switzerland and Liechtenstein their assets found there.
It also declares that it will prevent the concealing, disposing of or dissipation of assets of persons falling under the various blocking decrees issued by the Swiss Government in the past or which it will enact in the future, or the execution of transactions for or on behalf of such persons designed to elude or evade such controls as are now in effect in Switzerland or hereafter established.
The Swiss Government further agrees to consult with the Governments of each blocked country before abolishing or relaxing the control [Page 786] measures applied to such country. It will also be ready to consult at any time with the American, British and French Governments with regard to the financial questions which have been discussed in the course of the present negotiations.
In this connection, I also wish to bring to your attention the measures recently taken by the Federal authorities, as well as some of those in contemplation, for the purpose of implementing the foregoing decisions.
I. On February 16, 1945, the Federal Council decreed the blocking of all German assets in Switzerland. As you know, this decree freezes not only the assets of persons or entities domiciled in Germany—whatever their nationality may be—but also the assets of German nationals domiciled in Switzerland itself.
Moreover the executive measures taken in connection with similar freezing decrees in the past have been strongly reinforced, notably to the effect of blocking the assets of blocked countries transferred to Switzerland after the date of the respective freezing decrees. It is further agreed that the terms “directement et indirectement” as they are used in article I and the dispositions of article 2 of the decree of February 16, 1945, are to be understood as applying to the assets of entities, the control of which goes back to Germany, regardless of the country in which they are domiciled or operating.
Furthermore, the Federal Government on March 2, 1945, issued a decree prohibiting the import, export and all traffic in foreign banknotes in Switzerland. This decree is applicable to all foreign currency notes.
II. In addition to the measures already taken as indicated above, the Federal Government is prepared to take the following steps:
- to make for their own purposes a complete census of all German assets situated in or held through Switzerland, whether they be administered by the German owners themselves or by others on their behalf irrespective of nationality;
- to make for their own purposes a complete census of all assets of persons falling under the various other blocking decrees issued by the Swiss Government in the past or which it will enact in the future. The executive measures applying to these censuses will be studied without delay;
- to take such measures, in addition to those already taken, as are considered necessary to prevent the import into Switzerland of assets which could have been the subject of acts of dispossession.
III. Furthermore the Federal Government, in concert with the Swiss National Bank, agrees to restrict gold purchases from German or German controlled sources to the amounts in Swiss francs required for the diplomatic services of Germany or countries controlled by the latter. Under diplomatic services are to be understood: [Page 787]
- the expenses of legation and consulates in Switzerland;
- the amounts needed for prisoners of war and internees and generally all expenses in relation to the role of Switzerland as protecting power;
- payments to the International Red Cross.
The Swiss Government wishes to point out that these restrictions impose heavy sacrifices on Swiss interests in general as Swiss francs will no longer be made available for Germany for the execution of their contractual obligations towards Swiss persons and entities.