WHEREAS, When the Nazis came to power in Germany more than half a century ago, many German Jews frantically sent their valuables to secret bank accounts in neutral Switzerland, believing that their possessions would be safe. They were wrong. For the past 50 years, when Holocaust survivors or their families have come to claim their accounts, the bankers in Zurich and Geneva have often refused to acknowledge their claims; and
WHEREAS, Thousands of declassified documents from British, French and American archives conclusively prove that about $6 billion of Nazi looted gold was shipped to Switzerland during World War II. Gold from central banks across plundered Europe, along with the melted wedding rings, bracelets, and tooth fillings of death camp victims, joined securities, cash, artwork, furniture and insurance policies concealed in Swiss banks; and
WHEREAS, Swiss bank deposits left by Jews later murdered in the Holocaust have not been made available to heirs, or in cases where there are no heirs, to the world Jewish community. Even Swiss officials admit that these dormant accounts contain tens of millions of dollars. The actual figure is probably much higher; and
WHEREAS, Although it has denied any responsibility for these accounts for decades, Switzerland has bowed to international pressure and appointed a commission to investigate wartime deposits. The investigation may take until the year 2001. How many frail Holocaust survivors will still be alive in the next century to claim their property?; and
WHEREAS, Holocaust survivors deserve some measure of justice before they die. Where there are no survivors or heirs, these long hidden assets should go to Jewish communities that to this day struggle to recover from the horrible consequences of the Holocaust; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations applauds the efforts of President Clinton, who has steadfastly supported the Jewish people in this investigation, New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who has held Senate Banking Committee hearings to arrive at the truth in this matter, and the World Jewish Congress for the pressure they have applied to Swiss banks and the Swiss government to rectify this monstrous injustice. This House, moreover, calls upon the government of Switzerland, and the Swiss banking industry, to compensate Holocaust survivors, their heirs, or Jewish communities in Switzerland and throughout the world for denying them their property for more than 50 years. Simple humanity cries out against this conspiracy of silence and greed and demands immediate justice and restitution; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to President Bill Clinton, Senator Alfonse D'Amato, the World Jewish Congress and the Swiss Ambassador to the United States posted in Washington, D.C.