Georges Sauser-HallConsultation pour la Banque Nationale Suisse Concernant Les Operations D’Or Avec La Reichsbank

Georges Sauser-Hall, Consultation pour la Banque Nationale Suisse Concernant Les Operations D’Or Avec La Reichsbank (28 March 1946, dodis.ch/2612).

Background and Summary

Extract from Robert Vogler, ‘The Swiss National Bank’s gold transactions with the German Reichsbank from 1939 to 1945’ (footnotes emitted):

The Washington Agreement concluded on May 25, 1946 between Switzerland and the Governments of France, Britain and the United States put Switzerland under obligation to place at the disposal of the three Allied governments a sum of 250 million Swiss francs, payable on demand in gold in New York. The Allied governments declared that in accepting this sum they and their central banks would waive all future claims on the Swiss government or the SNB in any way connected to the gold acquired by Switzerland from Germany during the war. All questions in respect of this gold were henceforth deemed settled (Message, 1946, p. 21). The final obstacle to lifting the freeze on Swiss assets in the United States had thus been removed. For Switzerland the gold affair was over and done with.

The result of the negotiations may have been more favourable to the SNB than it had expected. This is indicated by the fact that the SNB had commissioned Georges Sauser-Hall, Professor of International Law at the University of Geneva, to prepare an expert opinion on the gold dealings between the National Bank and the Reichsbank in the light of the impending Washington negotiations. This study was to be delivered at the end of March 1946. Sauser-Hall concluded that the SNB had acted in good faith in its gold purchases since it was dealing with a regular seller. The Reichsbank, on the other hand, must have known that it was not entitled to acquire possession of the Belgian gold. Sauser-Hall deduced that the SNB could not be prosecuted unless it acted with malicious intent in a legal sense. He placed the main blame on the Banque de France, which he said had committed a very grave error in turning over Belgian deposits to the German occupying authorities even though this gold was not on Nazi-occupied territory. In a subsequent addendum to his expert opinion, Sauser-Hall conceded that – if Emil Puhl’s statements should prove to be founded – from a legal standpoint, matters would be worse for the SNB in various respects (SNB, 1946d). Whether they were correct or merely uttered in defense of his own interests, Puhl’s statements provided the Americans with strong ammunition for negotiation. During the subsequent Wilhelmstrasse war crimes trial, Puhl was found guilty of being privy to the transfer of gold from Nazi concentration camps and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Source: Robert Vogler, ‘The Swiss National Bank’s gold transactions with the German Reichsbank from 1939 to 1945’ available at: http://www.snb.ch/en/mmr/reference/snb_gold_ww2_vogler/source.

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You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: Sauser-Hall – Consultation pour la Banque Nationale Suisse

 

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