Update on Holocaust Assets Cases

(November 1999)

Swiss Banks: A $1.25 billion settlement of claims on unredeemed deposits made by Holocaust victims, reached in August 1998, is still pending final approval by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn. The settlement was reached between two large Swiss banks and Jewish organizations and class-action plaintiffs.

Slave labor: Jewish groups, five East European governments and individual survivors have just rejected a $3.4 billion offer from the German government and about 35 German companies to settle the claims of those compelled to work for German companies during World War 11. The claim, covering 2 million survivors, includes slave laborers (mostly Jews), and Eastern European forced laborers, who got very low pay. Lawyers want $10 billion or more.

Insurance: A commission headed by former State Department official Lawrence Eagleburger is dealing with claims against European insurers, including Allianz of Germany and Generali of Italy, for the unpaid proceeds of life insurance policies.

Deutsche Bank and Dresdener Bank: Class-action suits have been filed against two German private banks, for slave labor, looted assets and communal property.

Bank of Austria: A $40 million settlement for unclaimed Holocaust accounts is awaiting final approval.

Norway: In March 1999, Norway's parliament approved an $18 million fund to compensate Norwegian residents for persecution under Nazi occupation.

Poland: The U.S. District Court in New York is considering a class action filed against the Polish government to recover Jewish-owned property classified as "abandoned" by the Communist government after WWII, which passed to state ownership under the provisions of a 1946 law. A separate suit concerns the fate of Jewish communal property, The value of such property could total $50 billion.

British assets: The British government has established an open-ended fund to compensate the owners of property in Britain confiscated as "enemy" during World War II.

Source: Jerusalem Report, (November 22, 1999)