Greta Beer, Who Fought Swiss Banks for Family Assets, Dies at 98

Greta Beer, Who Fought Swiss Banks for Family Assets, Dies at 98

The family was wealthy enough to send Greta to a Swiss boarding school and take vacations in Italy. Her father’s factory employed more than 1,000 people in Romania.

After business trips to Germany and Czechoslovakia, Mr. Deligdisch would travel to Switzerland to deposit money in his numbered account. Amid rising fears of the Nazis and the Russians, he nonetheless assured his wife, his daughter and his son, Otto, that the money was safe in neutral Switzerland.

In 1940 Greta and her family moved to Budapest, where they sought treatment for her father’s illness. As his condition worsened — and her hometown was taken over by the Russians — she asked him a question.

“I said, ‘Father, the numbered accounts, the accounts?’” she said in her testimony, recalling her conversation with him. “He was too sick to remember and died a few days later.”

She returned to Romania, living in Bucharest and Brasov; after the war, she fled Soviet-occupied Romania to Budapest and then to Vienna, where she lived in a displaced persons camp. Around that time she met and married Simon Beer, a physician. They lived in Italy before immigrating to the United States in 1951.

She and her husband settled into life in Queens. Her mother and brother arrived later.

By the early 1960s, Ms. Beer’s mother had moved back to Switzerland. And, following the Swiss legislature’s passage of a law that gave the banks 10 years to review their dormant accounts and return money to the account holders, Ms. Beer traveled to Switzerland to help her mother locate her father’s account. They were invariably turned away.

“The first time they let my mother and I in, they said, ‘We didn’t find anything but we are looking,’” Ms. Beer told The Jewish Advocate, a weekly newspaper in Boston, in 2003. “They had so many excuses. I know the money was there. My father deposited the money and then it’s gone. They expunged it.”

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