A small recipe book that was saved from the days of World War II turned out to be the key to a major treasure, in the form of bank accounts that contained an inheritance worth millions of dollars.
According to Moshe Katz, the book belonged to his mother – who told him that the recipes in the book contained an elaborate code that indicated the sums and account numbers of bank accounts in Switzerland that contain tens of millions of dollars. Katz is currently suing the banks for return of the funds.
The recipe booklet was brought from Germany to Israel in the 1930s, as it became clear that Jews had no future in Europe. Katz's mother and her sister decided to leave Germany and deposit money in their Swiss bank accounts, before leaving the country. They wrote down the relevant numbers in the form of the recipes, with account numbers encoded in the number of cups of flour needed, how many eggs should be added, and so on. The numbers were woven into the book's recipes, Katz said, because his mother felt no one would be able to discover the information and take the money for themselves.
Katz's mother survived the war, and tried to go back and collect her money – only to be turned away at the bank where the money was deposited, Credit Suisse. Over the years, Katz's mother repeated the stories, and occasionally attempts were made to redeem the money, but to no avail.
Four months before her death, said Katz, his mother revealed the story to him. Today, Katz himself is past retirement age – and has decided to make it his life's mission to redeem the money and force the banks to release the funds. “I want them to give me back the money that belongs to me,” he said.
In response, Credit Suisse said that “in 1966 an arrangement was finalized with Jewish organizations and the Swiss Banking Association, which includes Credit Suisse, to set up an agency to search out ban accounts that belonged to Jews from before the war years. We have no record of the accounts in question.
“The plaintiff in the past has attempted to file suit in the US on this matter,” the bank said, adding that those cases had not been allowed to go to trial.