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Zürich, Swtzerland, March 27, 2005

[Original in German]

Dramatic Twist in the Case of Greta Beer

SHE was the principal witness against the Swiss Banks in the conflict over unclaimed funds. However, the Swiss Bank account of Greta Beer's father was never found. An account has now appeared: At the Bank Leumi in Israel.

It was her appearance that gave the Swiss bankers headaches. As Senator Alfonse D'Amato took to the podium on April 23, 1996 within the scope of the first hearings about the unclaimed assets, and made clear to the public with a few short sentences which was the right and which was the wrong side of righteousness in the case. The then 75 year old described in a voice choking with tears, the demeaning treatment she had to put up with on her search for her father's accounts at the Swiss banks, and how this hard heartedness destroyed her chances for a comfortable life.

From then on the "Swiss Case" had a face; in Greta Beer repeated her accusations against "the cold, arrogant and powerful" Swiss banks. She was never able to recover from this attack. Even Paul Volcker, the chairman of the commission which was named after him, later remarked that her accusations were "decisive".

Hans Bär, the representative of the banking industry, who was also present at these hearings, invited the crown witness on the same day to come to Switzerland and to help her with her search for the vanished accounts. She flew to Switzerland a few weeks later, but in spite of an intensive search, no results followed. And that is how it remained: In spite of all research by the Volcker Commission, there was no sign of the accounts of Siegfried Deligdisch - Greta Beer's Romanian father.

Israeli Research

In his memoirs, Hans Bär assumed that this account no longer existed; after the father's death of natural causes during the war, her brother took over their company and thereby also the power of attorney over the accounts - with which Bär subtly implies the fate of the accounts. As a result, Greta Beer was about to leave the Volcker Process empty handed. For this reason, NY Judge Edward Korman awarded her $100,000 "as remuneration for her help in making the settlement possible" from the settlement funds.

But the story was not over with that. A few days ago, Greta Beer received the news through the NZZ am Sonntag (A Swiss newspaper) that she had been waiting for for years: An account had appeared, but instead of in the Swiss, in the Israeli Bank Leumi. There, after a 4 year search for "Holocaust Assets" in Israeli banks, a list of 3595 accounts was published at the end of January, among which one is under the the name Siegfried Deligdisch .

Greta Beer, who lives in Boston, and her brother Otto Deligdisch are convinced that there is no doubt that this was her father's account. He had built up one the largest textile companies in East Europe between the two wars. His business relations reached from Egypt to West Europe, including Switzerland, where he had purchased machinery for his factories, which had the name "Hercules". On his business trips, remember the siblings, he often traveled through Palestine, and even bought a house in Jerusalem in 1934. This account is probably related to that transaction.

Threatening Precedent

In spite of the surprising find, Greta Beer and her brother are still convinced, that a large portion of her father's funds are in Switzerland. Beer also contradicts Hans Bär's account by which their father gave him the power of attorney. Burt Neuborne, the representative of the prosecuting attorneys in the Korman proceedings, that the CRT (Claims Restitution Tribunal) is making another attempt to find Deligdisch accounts in Switzerland as well. The chances of success are not good.

The surprising turn of the Greta Beer case is the result of a clarification in Israel that has long been controversial. The Knesset member Colette Avital had, against a great deal of resistance, gotten through a bill saying that Israeli banks should also look for unclaimed Holocaust accounts. After the results were published in January 2005, a number of banks objected, saying that the accounts did not belong to Holocaust victims. It is about "the principle" said Ha'aretz. No Israeli bank wants to admit openly, and be seen in history books, as having hoarded funds belonging to Holocaust victims for so many years.

Greta Beer has meanwhile contacted Colette Avital and the Board of Inquiry about the next steps for receiving possession of the account. According to information from Yona Fogel, Vice President of the Bank Leumi, the restitution process has not yet been clarified. Among other things, the amount of interest on these accounts is under discussion. At the moment, a percentage rate of 3 or 4% is being considered. According to Ha'aretz, it is possible that this rate will be reduced, since it is likely to be a precedent for the return of Palestinian funds. History does not necessarily favor Greta Beer.


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The Times (London): "Swiss Holocaust cash revealed to be myth"
Jan 2002: World Jewish bodies to "rake into their coffers" $1 billion from Swiss banks: Israeli politician
Great Shakedown latest, May 14, 2004 Agreement in Swiss bank case could mean more for survivors

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