yediot: WHERE IS OUR MONEY?

Holocaust survivors: Where is our money?

In demonstration outside Bank Leumi, survivors claim bank holding NIS 300 million (about $76.2 million) deposited before Holocaust; Bank Leumi: Protest organized by public relations agents

Tal Rabinovsky
Published: 07.16.09, 17:06 / Israel News

Holocaust survivors brought their protest effort Thursday to Bank Leumi headquarters in Tel Aviv, where the bank’s board of director’s was meeting. Dozens of survivors and their relatives demonstrated against the red tape involved in gaining access to survivors’ money held by the bank in some 4,000 accounts.

“Today is the opening shot of the struggle for justice and righting the wrongs done to those who perished and those who survived the Holocaust, in order to return it (the money) to heirs and Holocaust survivors in need,” Yaron Shamir, CEO of the Center of Organizations for Holocaust Survivors in Israel, told Ynet.

more.

ap: Lithuania to stick to compensation plan

By LIUDAS DAPKUS

Haaretz: BANK LEUMI BLASTED FOR THE WAY IT HANDLES HOLOCAUST ASSETS

Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee Moshe Gafni has established an ad hoc sub-committee to report on restitutions to Holocaust survivors, which are estimated to total hundreds of millions of shekels, including alleged funds held by Bank Leumi. The committee, to be headed by MK Zeev Bielski, is to submit its first report within one month.

According to the Company for Restitution of Holocaust Victims Assets, Bank Leumi had passed some funds belonging to Holocaust victims to the British authorities of Palestine, which then passed it on to the Israeli government.

The bank is being sued to repay linkage and interest differences for the entire period in which it held the assets belonging to the heirs of the deceased. Additionally, other funds have never been transferred from the bank and remain there in a dormant account. The bank is being sued to return these funds in real value to the successors of the original owners

more.

JEWISH COMMUNITY OF LOUISVILLE: Nazi-Era Looted Judaica Documented by Claims Conference in First International Guide

In a major first step to ensure that Jewish sacred items looted during the Holocaust era are identified and protected, Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman announced that the Claims Conference has produced the “Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica,” the first attempt ever to identify the locations of Judaica worldwide that were looted or lost during the Holocaust or immediately afterward. The catalogue is a listing of all known sources that can help locate and identify this Judaica.

“Identifying the locations of items will help communities and researchers attempting to trace lost and stolen Judaica, and may help stem the flow of trafficking of the more valuable pieces,” said Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference Executive Vice President.

“The Claims Conference is working to shed light on this area of restitution so that sacred items may be returned to their rightful Jewish communities or to the Jewish people,” said Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman.

The catalogue is available at http://forms.claimscon.org/Judaica. The definition of Judaica encompasses items used in prayer, such as prayerbooks and tefillin, ritual items such as candlesticks and Seder plates used at Passover, and archives, libraries, and objects relating to Jewish life generally.

Although much media focus in recent years has been on art looted by the Nazis, the issue of looted Judaica is of perhaps even greater moral importance. At the end of World War II, after the theft and destruction of several million Jewish households and the Nazis’ attempt to wipe out Jewish culture, there remained in existence in Europe perhaps some 10,000 Torah scrolls, a few hundred thousand ritual items that had not been melted down, and some ten million Jewish books. At present it is believed that several thousand of these Torah scrolls, some tens of thousands of these ritual items, and several million of these books are not in Jewish hands, but in public and private collections around the world.

This catalogue is a continuation of efforts by the Claims Conference and WJRO to promote the restitution of Holocaust-era looted art and cultural property.

The Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica does not list every individual piece of stolen Jewish cultural property, since in many cases the fate of individual items is not known, but it provides a starting point for communities, families, and researchers to identify where sacred and other objects of importance to the Jewish people may now be found.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.

BNS: Cardin, Hastings Lead U.S. Congressional Delegation Pressing Lithuania to Act on Jewish Community Property

A 13-member US Congressional delegation pressed Lithuanian officials at the highest levels to resolve the long-standing issue of property owed to the Jewish community after its seizure during the Nazi era.

Led by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hasting (D-FL), Commission members raised the issue in separate meetings today with President Valdas Adamkus, Prime Minister Andrisu Kubilius, and yesterday with Speaker of Seimas (Parliament) Arunas Valinskas. Delegation members also discussed the troubling matter of anti-Semitism, particularly that emanating from the media.

more.

Haaretz: Heirless Jewish assets to be used for aid to survivors

Heirless Jewish assets to be used for aid to survivors

By Cnaan Liphshiz

East European nations yesterday stated for the first time that heirless Jewish property should be used to aid needy Holocaust survivors. The statement was the final and joint resolution of the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, which ended yesterday in Prague.

“In some states heirless property could serve as a basis for addressing the material necessities of needy Holocaust survivors,” said the 10-page declaration, signed by 46 countries including Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.

Retired diplomat Reuven Merhav, who put together Israel’s delegation, told Haaretz the declaration was “a historic and great achievement for Israel,” which secured all of Israel’s goals for the conference. Though the document is not legally binding, he said, “it sets a norm.”


read more

Voice of America: The European Union and dozens of countries have pledged to speed up social support for Holocaust survivors

By Stefan Bos
Budapest
30 June 2009

The European Union and dozens of countries have pledged to speed up social support for Holocaust survivors and the search for art and other items that were stolen during World War II by the Nazis. At the meeting in Prague, they agreed to establish a special European institute to deal with these issues and education.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout delivers speech during Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague, 29 Jun 2009

As the number of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust rapidly declines, there was a sense of urgency among delegates that the world must provide them with adequate social assistance and compensation for stolen goods.

read more.

JTA: Q & A with Stuart Eizenstat

Q&A with Eizenstat on Holocaust-era restitution

By Dinah Spritzer