Sweden and Jewish Assets: Final Report from the Commission on Jewish Assets in Sweden at the Time of the Second World War
The Commission investigated what happened to unclaimed Jewish assets in Sweden. It also investigated the transactions of the Riksbank (Central Bank) to find out if it had received looted gold or gold plundered from individuals during World War II. It noted that the Riksbank had returned 7.1 tonnes of gold to the Banque Nationale de Belgique in 1949 and about 6 tonnes of gold to De Nederlandsche Bank in the Netherlands in 1955. The Commission also sought to discover if any confiscated Jewish property had been acquired by Sweden as part of trade exchange with Nazi Germany; and to establish if any Jewish assets were included in the dispersal of German assets in Sweden after the war.
The Foreign Capital Control Office was set up in 1945 by the Swedish government to seize German property. Between 1946 and 1956 it liquidated German property. No direct special provision was made for property which had belonged to German Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Reliable evidence was found proving that Jewish property was liquidated by the Capital Control Office.
The Commission found that heirless Jewish property ended up in the State Inheritance Fund. Owing to time constraints the Commission was unable to carry out a complete investigation of the value or quantity of Jewish assets still in the hands of the Swedish State. In March 1998 the Commission published a list of banking assets unclaimed since the war.
Documents in the National Archives in Washington DC name several Swedish and German individuals suspected of smuggling Nazi looted property during World War II. But the Commission found little evidence concerning Swedish dealings in looted art during the war and no evidence to suggest that any important works of art were shipped to Sweden. Interviews conducted with officials from the art trade also suggested to the Commission that trading in looted art was not a significant phenomenon in Sweden.
However the Commission provides some examples, including that of the Galleri St. Lucas in Stockholm which held an exhibition in 1945 of Flemish and Dutch art of uncertain provenance. The Commission believes it likely that some works of art on sale at the gallery in 1944 and 1945 "may have been directly or indirectly connected with looted art". American wartime documents also refer to certain crates of art at the auction house Bukowski's in Stockholm at the beginning of 1943 which were received from Germany.
However members of the Nazi party exported their valuables to Sweden after February 1943. The German Legation in Stockholm and German institutions in Sweden may have been involved in the purchase or shipment of confiscated Jewish property.
The Commission's research into Säpo (Security Police) archives found that the German Legation in Stockholm in 1944 was thought to be involved in smuggling diamonds belonging to Jews who had been sent to the concentration camps. Gold bars were also sent to the same German Legation in 1944. The report also concluded that Sweden was used as a transit country by the Germans. Loot was stored at Stockholm Free Port and Packhuskajen in Götenborg (Gothenburg). The Rapp firm of art dealers, prior to 1946, had large quantities of art warehoused in Stockholm Free Port. Jewish property may have entered Sweden towards the end of the year via the Baltic countries, but further research has been recommended. The Commission's detailed findings on art can be read here.
In its conclusion, the Commission recommended further research, particularly on the question of whether Swedish trade with Germany helped prolong the war, and on the relationships between Swedish and Jewish-owned businesses.
Sweden and Jewish Assets: Final Report from the Commission on Jewish Assets in Sweden at the Time of the Second World War, Stockholm 1999 (Sverige och Judarnas tillgångar, sou 1999)