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2008/06/19

Swiss TV journos seem unaware of their nation's history


German supporters in Vienna, Austria, for the Euro 2008 Germany v Austria match
German supporters at the match sang the official version of the anthem.

Raul Salinas de Gortari, file picRaul Salinas said he got rich during his brother's presidency, but legally.
Harried news editors sometimes unwittingly juxtapose apparently unconnected news reports that are - or could be - connected to highlight a long-standing and egregious state of affairs. The BBC did just that today with these two separate, but historically interlinked reports (click on the links to see them):
  1. Swiss TV in German anthem blunder
  2. 'Dirty money' sent back to Mexico
The state of affairs here is "Something rotten in the state of Denmark", or rather, in that bastion of economic and financial sobriety, Switzerland - and it is not recently rotten, but has been stinking for almost 70 years, with no sign of abating.
  1. The first report says that Swiss television made an embarrassing gaff during live coverage of the European Championship football match between Germany and Austria. The national channel SRG ran subtitles to Germany's national anthem including the obsolete first verse - ignored since the fall of the Third Reich. "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" or "Germany, Germany above everything", was popular under the Nazis' rule. (Postwar Germany later removed the first verse, and used the third verse on its own as the anthem, following unification in 1990.)

    It looks like the junior Swiss journalists blamed for the gaff may have had a poor grasp of modern history and knowledge of where the Swiss economy's stability historically comes from. Perhaps these things are not taught in Swiss schools anymore, because of Switzerland's embarrassment at having been the financial "safe haven" (NOT) for Jews and as bankers to the Third Reich, during the run up to WWII and for many years afterwards.

  2. The second report says that "Switzerland is to hand over to Mexico $74m from frozen bank accounts of the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Money from Raul Salinas's accounts was being returned because it had criminal origins, Swiss authorities said."

    This could seem unfair to some people, who might enquire as to what was wrong with Raul Salina's filthy lucre, given Switzerland's gobsmackingly vile and more depraved acceptance and continued persistence in hoarding of the money from the Jews and the Third Reich.
The complicity of the financial institutions in the wholesale plunder and genocide carried out by the Nazis upon the luckless Jews beggars belief, or, as the German historian Dr. Klaus-Dietmar Henke euphemistically put it - "There was a deep symbiosis between National Socialism and capitalism".

The German financial institutions were complicit in this regard - as one might have expected, and as honestly reported by a German news organ in Spiegel Online International:
Dr Henke led a team of historians from Dresden's Technical University, who took an exhaustive approach in compiling a history of the Dresdner Bank's activities during the Third Reich. After seven years of research costing €1.6 million, "Dresdner Bank in the Third Reich" paints a stark picture of how the firm actively courted Nazi favor in order to make money and rapidly expand its business. Several of Dresdner's board members belonged to the Nazi party, but much of Dresdner's involvement with the party, Henke indicated, was driven more by business concerns.

However, perhaps less expected was the formerly heavily concealed and more recently uncovered complicity of the Swiss financial institutions. Whatever the motivation - whether done for financial gain alone, or appeasement, or both - that complicity was vile and intrinsically wrong/evil. That it lay concealed for so long - until a whistleblower exposed it in the '80s - merely reveals how corrupt the Swiss have been, and probably still are. As Adam LeBor puts it:
There were no death certificates issued at Auschwitz. But Swiss bankers still demand them before handing over the assets of account holders killed in the Holocaust to their surviving relatives. The Jews of Europe entrusted their families' wealth to what they hoped would be a safe haven, the banks of Switzerland. Even if they died, their money would eventually be recovered, they believed. They were wrong. Millions of dollars, deposited decades ago in good faith by Jews who were to die in the Nazi genocide, still lie in the vaults, earning interest and providing working capital for Swiss banks.

But the Swiss bankers' role as financiers to the Third Reich goes far beyond the dispute over dormant accounts. Based on recently declassified documents and archival research in Washington, London and Jerusalem, Hitler's Secret Bankers reveals the full, hitherto unknown extent of Swiss economic collaboration with the Nazis. Swiss banks were the key foreign-currency providers of the Nazi war machine, they profited both from looted gold, stolen by the Nazis from the national banks of occupied countries such as Belgium and Holland, and by operating an international banking centre for the Third Reich.

I would like to think that, far from being ignorant of their nation's vile history, those two Swiss journos might - just possibly - have been making a valid point about it.
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