02 December 2010
A television documentary, to be broadcast next Sunday, will accuse the late father of Sweden’s German-born Queen Silvia, Walter Sommerlath, of making a fortune from a factory seized from its Jewish owners by the Nazis. Sommerlath was a member of the Nazi Party since 1934, something he denied in 1976 when his daughter married Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf. Earlier this year Queen Silvia spoke for the first time about the issue in a TV documentary in which she said her father had not been "politically active."
Bosse Schon, a Swedish journalist, said: "The truth about Queen Silvia's father, which she doesn't want to tell herself or her family, is that he joined Hitler's Nazi party NSDAP on 1 December 1934. Also, Queen Silvia's father worked during his time in Brazil for the German company Acos-Burderus-do Brasil, which used wartime prisoners as slave labor in Nazi Germany." Walter Sommerlath was living in Brazil at the time he joined the NSDAP and only returned to Germany on the eve of war. He settled in Berlin and on 24 May 1939 took over the company Wechsler & Hennig. Documents found now show he bought it at a knock-down price, as was common at the time. Jews needed to sell their property below market value and try to escape from Germany.
The Royal Palace in Stockholm issued a statement on behalf of Queen Silvia: "Concerning the discussions about Walther Sommerlath in the media, which deal with events which took place before the queen was born, the queen has no reason to comment on the content of the program. Of course the queen is sorry about her father becoming a member of the National Socialist Party in 1934. The queen first got knowledge of his membership in adulthood, and she never had the opportunity to discuss this with her father."
Walter Sommerlath died in 1990 at the age of 89.
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