(Photo source Goodreads)
Disclaimer: ARC of the Kindle edition via Netgalley.
When I mention Holocaust Denial someone always asks how can a denier be so stupid, what could motivate someone to deny something so documented. I usually counter with, well, you have people who believed slavery really wasn’t that bad; it’s a little like that. It’s true that such a comment is most likely a facile respond, but it is a hard answer. The reasons seem to run from a desire to shock to a refusal or need to defend the honor of one’s country to straight forward and outright anti-Semitism (not that you couldn’t say the first two points aren’t).
One could also argue that the denial was not something that started long after the war was over. In this book, Tom Bower chronicles the Swiss attempt to keep Nazi gold, stolen from Jewish citizens of various countries. In some case, the gold was in fact deposited by rightful owners who were killed and whose heirs could not inherit because proper documents were not to be had.
It is a maddeningly story, even if Bower’s prose is a little dull. It does call into question how neutral the Swiss were, or how neutrality should be defined. What is chronicled is one part sleight of hand, one part finical and bureaucratic genius, and one part a lack of gall (on behalf of some of those trying to get access to the gold).
In some ways, the cynicism exhibited by the Swiss government and banking establishment seems to suggest a refusal not only of compassion but of realities of the Second World War. A start of denial that might have a grounding in greed or covetous of a monetary gain.