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The banker who used Nazis to help save Jews


A year prior to the start of the Second World War, prominent banker Baron Friedrich Carl von Oppenheim convinced two of his friends, the Jewish owners of a metal factory, to move their families and their metal operation to Amsterdam from Cologne.

Even though their firm was taken over by von Oppenheim’s bank during the war, the Lissauer and Griessman families lived and worked in Amsterdam in relative peace during the first few months of the war. But as the long arm of the Nazis began to reach all of Western Europe, they were in grave danger of being deported and sent to concentration camps.
On September 7, 1940, an official Nazi bus escorted by two German military vehicles commanded by Nazi officers arrived at the Lissauers’ house, and the two families – 11 people in total – boarded the bus. They drove them through occupied Belgium and France, and finally the Nazis reached their final destination at the Spanish border, dropping off the two families and returning home. Once in Spain, the Lissauers and Griessmans took a train to Portugal and traveled to Brazil via ship.

“Basically, they were escorted to freedom by Nazis. How was this possible?” von Oppenheim’s grandson, Florian von Oppenheim, asked at a memorial in the Israeli Consulate in Shanghai in 2015.

He explained that through his grandfather’s high-level connections with the German Central Bank von Oppenheim was able to get them exit visas, convincing them that the only way the metal company would be able to


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