Liechtenstein's banks "helped Holocaust victims"

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2009
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The Prince of Liechtenstein has outraged Jews in Germany by apparently using the Holocaust to defend its secretive banking practices.

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, 64, slammed the German government for putting pressure on the alpine principality to clamp down on wealthy Germans who use the confidential Lichtenstein banking system to evade taxes.

The prince claimed many Jews had been saved during the Holocaust because they were able to buy their safety using secret bank accounts.

He said: "We and Switzerland saved many people, especially Jews, with banking secrecy. Germany should clean up its own act, and think about its past.

We and Switzerland saved many people, especially Jews, with banking secrecy. Germany should clean up its own act, and think about its past.

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein

"Beyond that, Germany and many other countries have an unbelievable mess with their state finances. These must first be put in order. They have been unsuccessful until now in doing this. The financial crash basically goes back to this alarming disability," he added.

But Stephan Kramer, general secretary of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said the prince’s comments were highly offensive.

He said: "The comments are a mockery of the Holocaust and its survivors. It is historically incorrect for him to portray Liechtenstein as a merciful helper of the Jews. His Highness would be better off retiring."

    Last updated: 12:47pm, August 19 2009