The Claims Conference is approaching its annual meeting in July, during
which the board of directors explores the search for additional
restitution assets to alleviate the physical and emotional problems of
aging Holocaust survivors. The board also determines policies concerning
the allocation and distribution of available funds, among other items.

Recently, the Claims Conference has been subject to some criticism in
the media, most of it based upon myths that persist about this
organization despite all evidence to the contrary. The topic of
Holocaust restitution and the distribution of compensation funds is an
understandably emotional issue, but that does not excuse statements
about the Claims Conference that are simply wrong and that can be easily
disproved by a look at the facts.

The Claims Conference goes to extraordinary lengths to be open and
transparent, more so than virtually any other major Jewish organization.
We take our fiduciary and moral responsibility seriously. Accountability
and oversight are central to who we are and what we do.

The Claims Conference posts on its Web site every year, the full
financial statements resulting from its yearly audit by Ernst & Young, Accompanying the financial statements are
summary charts,, of Claims Conference
revenue, expenses, and liabilities and net assets as of Dec. 31 of the
preceding year. As soon as the independent auditors sign off on the
financial statements for 2006, they, too, will be posted on our Web

Also on the Claims Conference Web site you will find the following:
A complete list of allocations made by the Claims Conference:
A description of the allocations process:

* The guidelines for allocations:

* Data on needs and demographics regarding Jewish victims of Nazi
persecution, including reports regarding current and projected needs of
Nazi victims, a significant basis for allocations decisions:

* An overview of the Successor Organization, which recovers unclaimed
property in the former East Germany:

* A description of the Successor Organization process:

* A report on current assets and pending claims:

* A chart showing revenue 1993-2005:

Information on the Independent Review Authority for individual survivors
regarding compensation programs:

This is just some of the information available to the public concerning
the Claims Conference. There is plenty more to be found on the Web site.

All kinds of numbers have appeared in the media regarding the assets of
the Claims Conference. The following is the reality. As detailed in the
2005 financial statements, the Claims Conference had $900 million in
total assets at the end of the year. This amount falls into two
categories, funds that are committed for specific payments and those
that are not, all of which is detailed in the audit:

A. Funds with commitment: $587 million

* $253 million for payments to identified heirs of property in the
former East Germany that the Claims Conference has recovered under
German law.

* $47 million in reserve generally for specific heirs of property in the
former East Germany who are in the process of producing documentation
and/or may be eligible for such payments.

* $238 million in grants payable, which are funds already allocated to
programs for survivors but not yet disbursed by the Claims Conference to
the agency that is implementing the program.

* $20 million designated for contractual obligations: funds exclusively
for distribution to designated survivors and heirs (which was done in

* $29 million is designated as “other,” which are 2005 accrued expenses
that were paid in 2006.

B. Funds Not Yet Committed: $313 million

* Of this $313 million, $38 million was designated for allocations to be
made in 2006.

* The remaining $275 million is set aside for the long-term needs of
Nazi victims as they age.

Additionally, East German properties that the Claims Conference has
recovered but not yet sold are described in the financial statements.
While we have estimated a value of $50 million for these properties, we
recognize that they are the remainder of the properties we have put up
for sale and, as expected, will be the most difficult to sell. The
number of pending claims is available on our Web site.

The Claims Conference allocates approximately $100 million of Successor
Organization funds every year. Demographic studies (available on the
Claims Conference Web site) show that there will be extensive needs on
the part of survivors over the next 10 to 15 years. As survivors who are
currently around age 75 get older, their needs will become greater. Yet
the sources of restitution funding that are supporting current Claims
Conference allocations for social services will not last nearly that

Those who know the Claims Conference know what we have accomplished and,
more importantly, our devotion to what still needs to be done. The time
is short and work monumental. Read our Web site to see what we do and
why. Together, let’s help those who suffered so much while we can.

Julius Berman is chairman of the Conference on Material Claims Against