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‘Mein Kampf’ Royalties May Be Latest Swiss World War II Headache

September 6, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Adolf Hitler may have kept royalties from ``Mein Kampf″ in a Swiss account, according to U.S. intelligence reports cited today by a Jewish newspaper.

The discovery is the latest linking Swiss banks to funds deposited by Nazis and their Jewish victims _ and is potentially embarrassing to the United States and other World War II allies who knew where the money was, but never bothered to tell.

World Jewish Congress officials tracing Jewish funds found the information among declassified U.S. intelligence documents, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Max Ammann, a close associate of the German dictator, was the publisher of his racist manifesto. Ammann deposited funds on behalf of Hitler in the Bern branch of the Union Bank of Switzerland, the Chronicle reported.

The royalties would have been substantial, as the book _ in which a youthful jailed Hitler outlines his plans for restoring German might and crushing the Jews _ had sold 6 million copies by 1940.

The Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, titled the 1944 document ``Objectionable Activities by Switzerland on Behalf of the Nazis.″

``It is quite possible that Hitler’s foreign exchange revenues from his book and foreign exchange revenues from the Nazi party abroad are held at the Swiss bank,″ it said, according to the newspaper.

This year, Switzerland agreed to bend its famously stiff banking rules to track down amounts deposited by Jews during the war. The banks say at least $32 million are in the dormant accounts; Jewish groups’ estimates reach into the billions.

Funds tracked down by investigators reporting to an international committee will be reimbursed to Holocaust survivors and their families.

The Swiss have refused to do the same with Nazi money that found its way to Switzerland.

Even confirming whether Ammann’s account still exists violates Swiss law, according to a statement from the Union Bank of Switzerland in the Guardian newspaper.

Another sore point is the nearly $300 million worth of gold the Nazis smuggled into Switzerland during the war. Jewish groups have pointed out that the amount substantially exceeds the amount of gold that Germany held at the time and likely includes gold robbed from Jews and others.

The allies knew about the gold for years _ in fact, U.S. documents declassified last month show that the allies grabbed about $60 million of the gold at the end of the war.

Britain is investigating what it took from the Nazi gold reserves in Switzerland, and Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. undersecretary of commerce, has promised to do the same.

Last week, researchers disclosed that a Red Cross official smuggled stolen Jewish property out of Germany into Switzerland. The Geneva-based organization refused to identify the official beyond saying that he was reprimanded.

The revelations are embarrassing for the Swiss, who have defended their nation’s wartime behavior, saying they were also potential victims.

``What we regard today as dirty dealing maybe was a question of survival at the time,″ Swiss ambassador to Britain Francois Nordmann said recently. ``Switzerland was surrounded by Nazi power and we didn’t know when they were going to attack. ...We were in difficult economic circumstances.″