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Jaac (Jacques) van Harten

Aliases and/or alternative transliteration(s):  
  • Yaakov Levy
  • Julius Lewy
Note: this biography may be incomplete or out of date. Extension/update suggestions are welcome.

Jaac van Harten (1902-1973) was a German Jew, born as Julius (Julian) Lewy in Gleiwitz (now Gliwice), Upper Silesia, and up in Breslau (Wroclaw).

In 1937, according to his account, he established a business of his own in Berlin, only to be ordered out of the city a year later in the wake of the Nazis' anti-Jewish drive. In early September 1938, he, with his wife and stepson entered Switzerland in possession of a Gestapo-supplied Dutch passport bearing the name Jaac van Harten. Living near Montreux, he was identified by the Swiss authorities as a Nazi agent, and he and his family were expelled from Switzerland and ended up in Budapest in September 1940, where lived until late December 1944.

He emigrated to Palestine in 1947 and lived in Savyon, a wealthy suburb of Tel Aviv, until his death in 1973.

He was a collaborator, who, among other things, was in the employ of the Abwehr, the Nazi intelligence service, and played a significant role in the Nazis' wartime scheme to undermine the British economy through the production and wholesale distribution of counterfeit British currency. He was shown to have been more than just a successful wholesale peddler of counter feit banknotes - he was Friedrich Schwend's money-launderer in Hungary. In possession of a Gestapo-supplied passport, van Harten also played a questionable role as a bogus "Plenipotentiary of the International Red Cross." A Budapest resident between September 1940 and late December 1944, van Harten apparently played this role with such conviction that he acquired the absolute confidence of the top leadership of the Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross (Nyilas) party and government. By 1944, the Nyilas leaders were most probably also aware of van Harten's dealings with SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer (later SS-Standartenfuhrer) Kurt Becher, Heinrich Himmler's personal economic representative in Hungary. A few weeks before the Soviet conquest of Western Hungary early in 1945, Hungarian Foreign Minister Gabor Kemeny, acting in the name of Ferenc Szfilasi, the head of the Nazi-type Hungarist puppet state, entrusted van Harten, the IRC "official" then in Merano, with the protection, in Germany, of the wealth and treasures of the Hungarian nation, including the Royal Crown and the Coronation Cloak.

Other entities whose entries refer to Jaac (Jacques) van Harten

Shalheveth Freier   • Michael (Micha/Mike) van Harten   • Friedrich (Federico) Schwend   • Elfriede-Viola Boehm

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