Government, Jewish Agency recruit attorneys, private investigators in bid to locate assets of Holocaust victims. Israel demands increased share of Claims Conference’s payments

Zvi Zinger Published: 11.28.06, 09:38

The Office for Location and Restitution of Assets of Holocaust Victims has decided to launch a large investigation campaign and has begun recruiting layers, accountants and private investigators for this purpose.

In advertisements published this week, the office demands that banks, real estate firms, and other bodies that are in possession of Holocaust survivors’ assets, report about the properties that are in their hands.

Those who fail to report, stand to face an arrest.

The office has been founded following the findings of a parliamentary inquiry committee, which probed the issue of Holocaust survivors’ bank accounts.

According to the office’s attorney, Nadav Haetzni, the office has gathered plenty of information about the bodies through which Jews have conducted their investments in Israel prior to World War 2. This information will provide investigators with leads that will help locate the lost assets.

“We will leave no stone unturned until we locate the property of Holocaust victims,” Haetzni said.

Israel wants greater representation

For the first time since the establishment of the Claims Conference in the 1950s, the government
of Israel, the Jewish Agency and Holocaust survivors’ institutions are launching a struggle against the policy of the distribution of restitution, in a bid to increase Israel’s representation in the conference’s bodies.

The Claims Conference, which is based in New York, works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust and heirs of victims. The Conference has distributed payments of some USD 90 million annually in the last several years as restitution and for organizations meeting the social service needs of Holocaust survivors, and engaging in education, research, and documentation of the Shoah.

However, the government, the Jewish Agency and the survivors’ organizations claim that the key used for the allocation of the funds fails to reflect reality.

Minister for Pensioners Affairs Rafi Eitan said Monday that “the survivors should be granted the money they deserve while they are still alive.”

Eitan called to increase Israel’s representation in the Conference’s bodies to at least 50 percent. “It’s unacceptable that a small group of people sitting in New York independently determine in matters that are so traumatic for the Jewish people,” Eitan stated.

The Claim Conference said in response that issues concerning the organization’s structure and management can be brought before the Conference’s board, which will convene in July. It further stated that 55 percent of its payments have been allocated to Israeli groups or survivors.