Restitution For Holocaust Survivors

   In Nazioccupied Europe, Jewish property and assets, including life insurance policies, bank accounts, and works of art, were seized by the Nazi government. In addition, Jews deposited millions of dollars of assets in banks outside the Third Reich, such as in Switzerland, from fear that the Nazis would seize their insurance policies and other liquid capital. Millions of these Jews, however, perished in the Holocaust and after the war survivors and children of those who perished demanded that financial institutions, such as the Swiss banks, make payments on the matured assets. However, without documentation, such as death certificates, many European banks, including the Swiss institutions, refused to honor the requests from the families of the victims. To address the issue of compensation, Jewish organizations were formed to enter into negotiations, if not legal action, to provide restitution for the Holocaust survivors and their families. The primary organizations that represented the claimants included the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, or Claims Conference, which represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference, which was founded in 1951, administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors. These services include hunger relief, home care, medical assistance, and emergency cash grants. Nahum Goldmann, then president of the World Jewish Congress (JWC), was a cofounder of the Claims Conference, and JWC designates two members to its board of directors. The Claims Conference negotiated with the newly united German government in 1990 to enable original Jewish owners and heirs to file claims for properties in the former East Germany. In order that unclaimed properties should not revert to the state or to beneficiaries of Nazi policies, the Claims Conference also negotiated to recover unclaimed formerly Jewish properties in the former East Germany. The Claims Conference uses a small portion of the proceeds from the East German properties to support programs engaging in Holocaust education, documentation, and research. The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) was established in August 1998 to identify, settle, and pay individual Holocaust-era insurance claims at no cost to claimants. The ICHEIC entered into negotiations with representatives of international Jewish and survivor organizations, the State of Israel, European insurance companies, and U.S. insurance regulators. The result of the negotiations, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), was signed on 25 August 1998 by several European insurance companies.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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