Swiss asked to increase funding

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ZURICH — A senior U.S. official has called on Swiss banks and businesses to increase a Swiss fund created earlier this year to help needy Holocaust survivors.

The U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, Stuart Eizenstat, in an interview last week on Swiss Television, praised efforts already made by the Swiss government and the country's largest banks to create the Holocaust Memorial Fund.

But at the same time, he added, "We feel there are other banks and insurance companies as well as big industrial firms which should pay money into this fund."

A Swiss Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the government, which has not contributed to the fund, has no plans to increase the total.

But, she added, "Of course, the banks and industrial concerns are free to do so."

In May, Eizenstat issued a blistering 200-page U.S. government report accusing Switzerland of cynically profiting from the war and of bankrolling the Nazi war machine through its purchases of Nazi gold.

The Holocaust Memorial Fund, valued at about $116 million, was created in February with contributions from Switzerland's largest banks and industrial firms to help Jewish Holocaust victims.

Gays, Gypsies and Catholics, who were also victimized during the Holocaust, are expected to receive a portion of the fund's distributions.

Fund officials have said they plan to issue the first checks sometime this month.