Father of Swedish queen had questionable ties with Nazis, report says

The father of the current queen of Sweden helped at least one Jew escape Hitler’s Germany, according to a report commissioned by Queen Silvia in response to media allegations about his Nazi past.

The report, published last week, said although Walther Sommerlath belonged to the NSDAP Nazi Party, he appeared to have been an inactive member and helped a Jewish businessman escape the Nazis.

Swedish media reported in 2002 that Sommerlath had joined Germany’s Nazi Party in 1934 and took over Efim Wechsler’s consumer goods company under unclear circumstances in 1939.

But in last week’s report, World War II expert Erik Norberg said documents indicate that just before the outbreak of World War II Sommerlath helped Wechsler escape Germany to South America, where he had offered him a coffee plantation and other assets in exchange for the company.

However, some question if Sommerlath used the situation to his advantage.

“The report was not an independent inquiry — it was commissioned by the queen with the participation of her cousin, a Brazilian lawyer, after a TV report criticized her father. Such a probe can only raise suspicions of a whitewash,” the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors said in a statement. — ap