14 – BUYING UP GERMAN ASSETS

Victor Mallet (left) together with Swedish Foreign Minister Christian Günther, 12 May 1945.

It is believed that Sir Victor Mallet of the British Legation in Stockholm was involved in investing funds belonging to the British royal family in German assets. The funds came from the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland, a secretive bank set up after WWI to deal with reparations. A large amount of money was deposited in an account at the bank in 1937 and use to buy shares in numerous German companies.

Then in 1943 there was a significant transfer of Bosch shares from this bank to the Swedish Enskilda Bank belonging to the Wallenberg family according to Hugh Thomas’ book The Strange Death of Heinrich Himmler. After the war, American treasury agents tried to uncover the dispersal of Bosch shares but were blocked by the British Treasury under pressure from the Foreign Office. Sir Edward Playfair played a key role in obstructing the Americans and said: “The amounts of British capital invested were so great that it made it impossible for a nearly bankrupt Britain to even consider sanctions.”

Another interesting fact is that Allied investigators after the war discovered that numerous Bosch shares were held in a safety deposit box in the name of Karl-Heinz Kramer, Schellenberg’s man in Stockholm.

Another active character in transferring German assets was Allen Dulles, head of OSS, who worked out of his flat in Bern, Switzerland during the war. He had rubber-stamped the transfer of a sizeable portion of Nazi German’s assets by the SS. Working with the Wallenbergs, he had brokered deals with the Swedish firm Bofors to conceal the transfer of German assets.

Recriminations were so bad at the end of the war that the US Treasury were charging the Enskilda Bank and the Wallenbergs of war profiteering. To better cloak the transfer of Nazi assets, the King of England honoured Marcus Wallenberg by making him a Knight of St.Michael and St.George. So the British crown and the British Treasury went out of their way to oppose American proposals to blacklist the Enskilda Bank and the Wallenbergs.

Next time we will talk about commercial flying around Europe during WW2. During the war you didn’t fly for pleasure or for a two-week holiday in the sun. It was far too dangerous and there were no direct flights.

 

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