09 August 2011
Sweden’s German-born Queen Silvia has said that her father had conducted a business deal with a prominent Jewish businessman whereby he took over his company in Berlin in 1939 and facilitated the man's emigration from Nazi Germany. The news emerged after the conclusion of an investigation into alleged links between the queen's father, Walter Sommerlath, and the Nazis. Sommerlath reached a settlement with Efim Wechsler to take over his company in Berlin and in exchange handed over a coffee plantation in Brazil. "I have searched in the Brazilian and German archives and found that my father and Efim Wechsler made an agreement on the factory in Berlin and coffee plantation in Brazil," Queen Silvia told the Swedish newspaper ‘Göteborgs-Posten’.
According to the wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf – whom she married in 1976 – her father's transfer of the plantation and three plots in São Paulo in 1939 made it possible for Wechsler to move to Brazil. The Jewish German businessman had already in 1938 been urged by the authorities to leave Germany. "All of this has come as complete news both to me and my brothers. Our father never said anything about this time and we kids did not ask either," Silvia told the newspaper. After six months in his new homeland the coffee plantation returned to a relative of Walter Sommerlath's wife.
Silvia announced in May he intention to investigate reports of her father's alleged links with the Nazis. The queen received assistance in the investigation of a cousin working as a lawyer in Brazil and a former Swedish national archivist. According to media reports, Walther Sommerlath, who died in 1990, joined the Nazi party in 1934. Last year a Swedish television documentary reported a widely rumored story that on his return from Brazil, as part of the so-called ‘Aryanisation’ of Jewish assets in Germany in 1939, Sommerlath had taken over a factory which was owned by a Jew.
Silvia at first reacted angrily to the revelations in the documentary and sent a letter of complaint to the general manager of the television channel. At the time she said her father had never been politically active and that he had denied the allegations and membership in the Nazi Party until his death.
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