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Restitution of Victims' Assets
In 1944, policymakers in the State Department examined the means that would enable "German racial or religious minorities" to receive compensation for what had been inflicted on them. Once the war ended, U.S. officials consulted with their Allies, Jewish organizations, and German officials before implementing plans in Europe to allocate reparations to survivors and restitute looted property. Having secured control of innumerable pieces of real estate, cultural artifacts, and financial assets, the United States inaugurated its general restitution program in the summer of 1945. By that time, some U.S. officials already had begun to consider victims of Nazi persecution as representing a distinct category of property claimants. In 1946, Congress enacted legislation enabling persecutees to claim property frozen in the United States during the war. To further address the needs of Holocaust survivors, U.S. officials designated the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) to receive the assets of heirless victims and employ those funds for the rehabilitation of survivors worldwide.
Not all U.S. authorities recognized persecutees as a special category. Much of the documentation created in the immediate postwar era pertaining to restitution does not distinguish between victims' and nonvictims' assets, for instance. Consequently, property that was identifiable as to its country of origin would not be further categorized to designate an owner who had been persecuted by the Nazi regime. The measures envisioned for effecting restitution also shifted over time: while State Department officials initially favored only a modest indemnity payment for dispossessed persecutees, Military Government authorities promulgated a law in 1947 that promised full restitution of property. During the period between 1944 and 1947, neither a uniform nor a fixed conception of "victim" prevailed among U.S. authorities.
Sensitivity to survivors, heirs, and the successor organizations attempting to claim property fluctuated in the postwar era; other U.S. policies sometimes adversely affected the restitution program. For instance, the decision to return many governing tasks to the Germans in 1945, allowed some who benefited from Aryanizations to participate in the administration of the restitution program.1 In the United States, the desire to compensate U.S. citizens for damages suffered overseas competed with the restitution of victims' assets, because both programs drew sums from the same fund of vested property.
The impulse to protect the assets falling under U.S. control delayed restitution to claimants and the successor organizations. This concern held certain advantages, however. The UnitedStates insisted that any law providing for restitution in Germany contain a presumption of duress--that is, it was assumed that persecutees who transferred property after 1935 did so unwillingly, and that current "owners" of such property could be sued for its return to the original owner. By holding out for this clause, the United States forced the creation of a much broader restitution program than initially envisioned by German authorities after the war. This also meant, however, that the promulgation of the restitution law in Germany did not occur until November 1947, more than two years after hostilities ceased.
In the United States, the Office of Alien Property (OAP) carefully examined individual claims to determine the legitimate ownership of assets. On average, this resulted in a delay of more than three years before a victim could recover property. The OAP also tracked down surviving owners and heirs in Germany before agreeing to release assets to the JRSO. After realizing the extensive time and resources necessary to fulfill this responsibility, the JRSO negotiated an agreement with the United States government in the early 1960s as a result of which the successor organization reluctantly accepted a lump-sum settlement of $500,000.
Even though officials frequently did not distinguish victims' property from other assets recovered, the United States nevertheless employed seven mechanisms that affected assets belonging to Nazi persecutees:
* External restitution policy--the return of "identifiable" property from Germany to its country of origin--applied to victims' assets.1
* The United States agreed with its allies at the Paris Conference on Reparations to pool all the monetary gold discovered in Germany, some of which contained gold taken from victims, for restitution to countries.
* In Paris, the United States also agreed to distribute the "non-monetary gold" found in Germany and a sum of $25 million to a refugee relief organization for aiding "non-repatriable victims of German action."
* The Office of Military Government for Germany, United States (OMGUS) issued Law 59 in Germany that effected restitution ("internal restitution") for those who had been persecuted "for reasons of race, religion, nationality, ideology, or political opposition to National Socialism."
* OMGUS designated the JRSO to claim heirless Jewish property for Jewish communities worldwide.
* Congress authorized the release of assets seized in the United States that belonged to persecutees.
* President Eisenhower designated the JRSO to receive and distribute heirless vested assets in the United States.
U.S. government officials were aware of the special circumstances surrounding Nazi persecutees at war's end. Although other policy considerations impeded progress, agencies of the United States government demonstrated a significant commitment to return the property of Holocaust victims after the Second World War.
Restitution in Europe
Context and Planning
The United States had refused to sanction war plundering since it became a signatory to the Hague Convention in 1907, if not before.2 After World War I, the victorious Allies, including the United States, enacted a reparations program to compensate countries for the property damages wrought by the Germans. The London Declaration of January 1943 reaffirmed the commitment to annul wrongful property dispossession under wartime conditions. Signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, and sixteen other nations, the London Declaration stated that the Allies:
Reserve all their rights to declare invalid any transfers of, or dealings with, property, rights and interests of any description whatsoever which are, or have been, situated in the territories which have come under the occupation of control, direct or indirect, of the governments with which they are at war or which belong or have belonged,
to persons, including juridical persons, resident in such territories. This warning applies whether such transfers or dealings have taken the form of open looting or plunder, or of transactions apparently legal in form, even when they purport to be voluntarily effected.3
Although scholars disagree about whether or not the London Declaration made an express commitment to restitution, at least to the country of origin, the Commission staff believes that it laid the foundation for postwar restitution policy.
As early as November 1943, the U.S. State Department created an Interdivisional Committee on Reparation, Restitution, and Property Rights to formulate the "general bases of departmental policy on the questions of reparation, restitution, and related matters."4 It is noteworthy that this committee specifically endeavored to construct a "restitution" policy. Although there had been some discussion of restitution among the Allies after the First World War, reparations had emerged as the dominant means to address property losses. Given the incessant crises of the German reparations program during the 1920s and 1930s, however, the interest in exploring an alternate policy such as restitution is understandable.
From the outset, committee members subordinated restitution to other concerns by agreeing that "policy with respect to reparation and restitution should be formulated in such a way as to interfere as little as possible with the major economic objectives of this government."5 Similarly, the principle of restitution to governments rather than individuals arose soon after deliberations began. On February 5, 1944, an unidentified participant declared that "individual claimants should look for satisfaction of their claims solely to their national governments" and that "no attempt can or should be made. . .to regulate or otherwise deal with the relations between individual claimants and their national governments."6
The same argument against restitution to individuals appeared on April 10, 1944. A memorandum entitled "Recommendations on Restitution" suggested that "no attempt should be made to make restitution to the original owners individually." Property looted from occupied countries should be returned to the legitimate governments of the liberated countries, and all property moved to Germany during the occupation "should be presumed to have been transferred under duress."7 The committee members made clear their conviction that U.S. occupation officials should bear only initial responsibility for effecting restitution.
The question of restoration to individual owners is a matter for these [legitimate] governments to handle in whatever way they see fit. The original owners may have received part payment for property taken from them under duress and the governments in question may wish to make adjustments for this circumstance in returning the property. In some cases it may be impossible to locate the original owners or their heirs and the governments involved will have to decide what should be done with the property or proceeds therefrom.8
Once assets had been delivered to representatives of claimant nations, no further U.S. involvement was deemed necessary or desirable.
The Committee acknowledged that "for political reasons the right to restitution should be recognized in all cases and for all classes of property," in part because a restitution program would be "a logical corollary to the inter-Allied Declaration of January 5, 1943." Nevertheless, the Committee believed that certain limitations should apply. "As a practical matter, restitution should be restricted to relatively few kinds of property such as archives and records of the occupied countries: gold; works of art, books and other cultural and educational treasures; securities, major means of transport, mostly rolling stock and ships; industrial equipment; registered livestock, and agricultural equipment."9 Household items would be excluded from restitution efforts, since "practical considerations make it necessary to ignore the problem of restoring small items such as furniture and fixtures, rugs and hangings, and similar items." Any attempt to restitute these assets promised to be a "difficult" and "relatively unimportant" task.10
One member of the Interdivisional Committee, Eleanor Dulles, objected to the principle of returning assets to countries instead of individuals. Dulles thought that "securities, at any rate, should be returned on the basis of citizenship rather than residence." She described a hypothetical example of an American whose stock certificate had been looted from a safety deposit box in Paris; Dulles argued that such a certificate "should be returned to the American wherever he may be and not to the French government." For reasons of "administrative convenience and equity," however, the other committee members disagreed.11
The issue resurfaced a few days later. Jacques J. Reinstein and some of his colleagues remained convinced that goods had to be restored to governments. They thought that "no international commission could attempt to deal with the complicated questions of individual ownership," and "only the government of the territory could untangle the question of title." Evidently this argument proved persuasive; Dulles eventually endorsed the idea of restitution to governments instead of individuals.12
In April 1944, the committee issued recommendations on "Compensation for Injuries to Members of German Racial or Religious Minorities." Such compensation did not include absolute restitution of property seized. "The difficulties and questionable aspects of a program to restore all their former property to the Jews appear to dictate some compromise measure." Resentment toward the Jews "might well build up further" if a program were established to restore all lost property. The German government could not "be expected to administer such a program sympathetically," and, given the difficulties of converting assets into foreign denominations, Jewish owners would probably have to return to Germany to obtain settlements. "This raises the question of whether it is desirable to provide a stimulus for the return of Jews to Germany."13
The committee considered the possibility of a limited program of German indemnification instead of wholesale restitution. One idea required the German government to help finance the resettlement of former persecutees through an international organization responsible for receiving and distributing the funds. "The amount of the payments should be related not to the losses suffered by the members of these groups but to the requirements of the resettlement schemes." In addition, the German government would "provide an indemnity up to some moderate maximum per person, which maximum should be identical for all claimants regardless of loss," for all those dispossessed by the Nazis on racial or religious grounds. The committee recognized that under such a program wealthy claimants would fare worse than poor claimants, but "indemnification for all their losses would not be feasible in any event." 14
On June 29, 1944, the Interdivisional Committee delivered the final report to the Executive Committee on Economic Foreign Policy (ECEFP). Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson presided at this meeting; officials from the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor attended, as did representatives from the United States Tariff Commission, Bureau of the Budget, and Foreign Economic Administration.15 The ECEFP approved a slightly revised "Report on Reparation, Restitution, and Property Rights--Germany" on August 4, 1944, 16 and transmitted it to the Secretaries of War and the Navy.17
The sections most relevant to restitution clearly derived from the statements crafted earlier that spring. The report recognized that practical considerations might restrict a desired unlimited obligation on Germany to restore identifiable looted property. The right to restitution, moreover, should not be absolute. The Allied authorities should reserve the right to delay or deny restitution of certain objects if necessary. Only identifiable property in existence before the German occupation would be subject to restitution. Looted property should be returned in the condition found and restored to the existing governments of the territories where the property had its situs and not to the former owners individually. All property that the German occupiers removed to Germany (except for current output) would be presumed to have been transferred under duress and recognized as looted property. Apart from gold and works of art and other treasures, no claims for replacement should be allowed.18
The report also acknowledged the self-evident moral basis for compensation for injuries to persecutees. Practicalities and politics, however, would make compensation difficult. It was assumed that many who might have been in a position to seek restitution of property within Germany were dead. Others no longer lived in Germany, and many of these individuals "would not find it worthwhile to return in order to regain their property." Further, an enormous transfer of assets abroad might create "strong social tension" and was therefore "out of the question." Finally, such a large restitution program might impose an overwhelming administrative burden. The twofold plan of resettlement aid and limited indemnification for property losses thus emerged as the recommended solution to the restitution question.19
These initial ideas concerning restitution were directly linked to and must be interpreted in the context of how State Department officials envisioned the role of postwar Germany. They desired a speedy return of the German economy to "normal" conditions and advocated the reintegration of Germany into the community of European nations. They believed that by ensuring favorable conditions for recovery, rather than imposing draconian measures, the United States might best realize its goal of securing lasting peace with Germany. The fairly mild restitution proposals reflected this thinking, and for that reason the State Department recommendations drew sharp criticism from Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau. Believing that peace could only be obtained by stripping Germany of its industrial capacity and punishing the German people, Morgenthau and his staff in the Treasury Department crafted their own proposals for the postwar administration of Germany.20
The ensuing debate between the opposing visions meant that the ideas for limited restitution crafted in the State Department in the spring of 1944 did not translate directly into U.S. policy at war's end. Officials accepted the principle of restitution to countries rather than individuals. On the other hand, the State Department proposals envisioning a meager recompense for persecutees disappeared from policy discussions. An ambitious program to return victims' property emerged instead.
Restitution to Countries, Not Individuals (External Restitution)
Although no comprehensive policy for restitution had yet been transmitted to military authorities in Europe, President Truman had approved the return of "readily identifiable" works of art from U.S. Collecting Points in July 1945.21 The following month, U.S. officials began restitution of art and cultural property from their zone of occupation in Germany. Belgium received the first delivery, accepting the Ghent altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb."22 In the weeks thereafter, representatives from many nations presented claims for property held at the Collecting Points and "streams of art" began "flowing in both directions at the Munich Collecting Point."23
An interim restitution policy memorandum issued in September described the standard operating procedure for returning these artworks. Governments submitted consolidated lists of items taken by the Germans, providing information about the location and circumstances of their theft. U.S. authorities examined each list and permitted small missions to enter the U.S. Zone to identify the materials and undertake preparations for their return.24
At the end of November 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed commanders in Germany and Austria to return to the government of issue all currency issued by member states of the United Nations that had been occupied by the Germans "without the necessity of proof that it was looted or otherwise acquired from that country during the period of German invasion or occupation." U.S. authorities were also directed to return heavy agricultural and industrial equipment, locomotives, rolling stock, barges, transportation equipment (except for seagoing vessels), and communication and power equipment which had been "identified as having been looted or acquired in any way by Germans from United Nations during German occupation." Further, other goods, materials, equipment, livestock and other property "looted or acquired in any way by Germans" was subject to restitution. The Joint Chiefs also instructed commanders to return valuables excluding gold, securities, and foreign currencies other than those specified above. The procedure for restitution mirrored that already established for art and cultural property: upon submission of lists by governments, U.S. authorities allowed small missions to identify and retrieve property. Currencies that comprised part of the Melmer loot, however, were turned over to the International Refugee Organization (IRO) for the support of refugees and displaced persons.25
Initially, only certain governments--France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Poland, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and Yugoslavia--could present claims. In March 1946, ex-enemy nations, including Hungary, Romania, Finland, and Italy, obtained the privilege of submitting claims for items taken during the period when Germany occupied these countries.26 The Soviet Union claimed and received some materials looted from the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) in 1945, 27 but by 1946, the U.S. government had ceased restitution of items belonging to those countries because it did not "recognize [the] incorporation of these states into the Soviet Union."28
By 1947, additional policies for returning other currencies and securities to countries of origin were in place. Currencies were to be given back to nations that had experienced German occupation, and to countries that belonged to the Inter-Allied Reparation Agency.29 An exception to this broad policy gave Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Finnish currencies to the Soviet Union.30 Moreover, identifiable securities were to return "in the normal way to the claimant nation." Securities issued or owned by German corporations or the German government were not, however, subject to release.31
U.S. authorities stopped accepting claims for external restitution in 1948. 32 Restitution missions could submit petitions for cultural items and securities until September 15 and December 31, respectively, but the deadline for all other materials was April 30, 1948. Meritorious claims would be considered thereafter "when it can be established that the delay in filing resulted from the fact that the German holder of the claimed property conspired to conceal its existence."33 U.S. authorities justified the termination of external restitution by arguing that the United States "cannot agree to maintain such a considerable staff [to administer restitution] for an indeterminate period," and that by mid-1948, nations had three years since the end of the war to file claims. In August 1948, the United States announced that it intended to complete both investigations and shipments of claimed materials by December 31, 1948. 34
In October 1948, a collective protest from the restitution missions of Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Romania challenged these decisions. It argued that in certain situations, the restitution missions could not comply with the demands of the U.S. authorities "despite all [their] efforts" to do so. 35 Further, cessation of investigations would assuredly permit Germans to keep the items they had stolen, since it "is obvious that the German holder of looted properties" realized that the deadline for restitution was rapidly approaching and "is hiding this property or denies possession of goods without risk, that his case could be reinvestigated." 36 The restitution missions, therefore, asked that the United States reconsider its policy. The United States declined to review its decision.37
By returning looted, identifiable assets to countries, U.S. authorities certainly restituted assets belonging to Holocaust victims. By June 1946, the Offenbach Archival Depot, described by U.S. officials as the "only central repository of Jewish cultural property in [the] U.S. zone," 38 had delivered 523 cases of "readily identifiable Jewish property" to France, 544 cases to the Netherlands, and nine cases to Belgium. Restitution of similar material was pending for the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, Greece, Poland, Hungary, and Italy.39 Approximately six months later, Offenbach had shipped a total of 1,909,383 items to 12 different countries.40 This figure had increased by almost a million by January 28, 1949, when the Office for Military Government, Hesse reported a total disbursement of 2,837,821 items. At that time, 371,444 items remained at Offenbach awaiting final disposition.41
U.S. authorities restituted more than just victims' cultural materials to countries, however. At Dachau, U.S. troops recovered 2,826 envelopes containing items such as wedding rings, watches, and pins.42 Appraisers at the FED valued these items at less than $10,000. The Nazis had listed the name and nationality of the owner on 23 percent of the envelopes; OMGUS approved the return of these packages to the respective countries on August 12, 1947. 43 Almost a year later, on July 2, 1948, the FED released the envelopes to representatives of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Norway, and Yugoslavia.44
In October 1947, the Department of the Army instructed OMGUS to restitute registered bonds acquired from concentration camps if the FED could identify the names of owners and their countries.45 Consequently, the FED authorized the release of six securities to Poland in 1947. 46 OMGUS returned to Czechoslovakia a cache of jewelry, silver bullion, precious stones, securities, and wedding rings contained "in envelopes bearing names and addresses of Czech nationals from whom [they were] said to have been confiscated for political, racial, and religious reasons."47 These valuables, found at the Reichsbank in Regensburg, were valued contemporaneously at $500,000. Although some of the items appeared unidentifiable, U.S. authorities defended the restitution of the entire cache by arguing that "there was not the slightest doubt. . .that all of these valuables had been removed from Czechoslovakia" and should therefore be returned to that nation.48
Unfortunately, most of the
data recorded by the main repositories of assets in the U.S. Zone
of occupation, the Collecting Points and the FED, do not distinguish
between victims' and non-victims' property. For instance, the
Deputy Chief for Industrial Restitution, K.A. de Keyserlingk,
indicated that as of November 23, 1948, 300 million Reichsmarks
(based on 1938 valuations) had been restituted from the U.S. Zone,
excluding cultural items. Of that sum, RM 100 million represented
Hungarian gold, and Dutch diamonds amounted to RM 7.5 million.
Neither these nor the other figures, however, indicate the percentages
or values of Holocaust victims' assets.49 When MFA&A
officers completed a final report in December 1948, they listed
totals of cultural items restituted to various countries from
Germany by that date (1.7 million objects) but failed to mention
how many works of art or books may have belonged to persecutees.50
Similarly, the U.S. High Commissioner for Austria reported that
as of December 1948, an estimated $20 billion (based on 1948 dollars)
had been restituted from the U.S. Zone of occupation in that country
(including the Vienna area), but the officials who prepared this
report did not calculate the percentage of victims' loot included
in this total.51 Calculating the precise quantity of Holocaust
victims' assets restituted according to the basic principle of
returning identifiable property to its country of origin remains,
therefore, impossible. For the most part, U.S. authorities simply
did not distinguish victims' assets from other property.
Victims' Assets and the Paris Reparations Agreement
The Gold Pot
From November 9 to December 21, 1945, representatives of 18 countries met in Paris to discuss how to distribute reparations from the western-occupied zones of Germany. The Soviet Union renounced claims from these zones and did not participate. One issue included in the negotiations was the return of monetary gold looted from occupied countries. The United States favored pooling all monetary gold found in Germany, along with any German monetary gold that had been transferred abroad. Nations that had suffered gold losses would receive portions of this pot. The idea gained acceptance at the conference, and the United States, Great Britain, and France accepted responsibility for distributing the monetary gold among claimant nations.52 These nations established a Tripartite Gold Commission (TGC) to carry out the task.
On September 27, 1946, the TGC met in Brussels, Belgium; a commissioner and deputy commissioner represented each government. The TGC opened gold accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank, New York, the Bank of England, and the Bank of France and was responsible for the restitution of 10.8 million ounces (336.4 thousand kg) of fine gold, amounting to over $379 million ($35/ounce). 53
Ten countries submitted claims totaling more than twice the amount in the gold pool. Even after the TGC discounted some claims, the total remained about 50 percent higher than the sum administered by the TGC. The Paris Agreement stipulated a prorated basis for the return of gold; by 1950, over 80 percent of the gold had been returned to claimant countries. The next and "quasi-final" distributions took place in 1958 and 1959, when all claimants except for the Netherlands, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Albania received gold. The last of these countries (Albania) received its portion in 1996, and the TGC closed on September 9, 1998.
U.S. officials knew by 1945 that the Nazis had looted gold from persecutees, melted it down, and incorporated it into the German monetary gold supply. 54 Nevertheless, in 1947 the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee decided to place all monetary gold in the gold pot, even though some bars and bullion contained victims' gold.55
A study on Nazi-looted gold and its restitution, coordinated in 1997 by Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Stuart E. Eizenstat, helped lead to the creation of a humanitarian fund to benefit Holocaust survivors. The TGC notified potential recipients that it would be making a final distribution of the remaining gold (amounting to 5.5 tons in the fall of 1996) and also informed them of the report's findings. By December 1997, an international fund had been established to compensate victims of Nazi persecution. 56 In 1998, the United States pledged $25 million to this fund.57
"Non-Monetary Gold" and the "Non-Repatriable Victims of Nazism"
In 1945 and 1946, the United States, France, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia agreed to provide swift relief to thousands of former persecutees by turning over all "non-monetary gold" found in Germany--consisting primarily of loot the Nazis had seized from concentration camp inmates--to an international relief organization. This agency, known successively as the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR), the Preparatory Commission for the International Refugee Organization (PCIRO), and finally the International Refugee Organization (IRO), would also acquire up to $25 million from German assets and heirless victims' assets in neutral countries. The program was a part of the overall reparations agreements and therefore cannot be considered "restitution." It utilized victims' assets and government officials agreed that ninety percent of the funds should assist Jews.
Officials in the State Department endorsed the idea of providing funds to an international relief agency to support resettlement and rehabilitation. President Truman's representative to the Moscow Reparations Conference in the summer of 1945, Edwin Pauley, suggested that the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain establish an "International Board of Trustees" to represent the thousands of individuals made stateless by the Nazi regime, noting that such people "have no government to represent them in making claims either for restitution or reparations."58 He advised the Allies to set aside a fixed percentage of reparation sums for the International Board of Trustees, to have it operate as a quasi-government to determine which claims would be recognized or dismissed and apportion monies accordingly. "Particular effort should be directed to secure equipment helpful in resettlement for groups of stateless persons in Palestine, or in other parts of the world where there is opportunity for resettlement."59
It was certainly in the best interests of Great Britain and the United States to accept these recommendations, Pauley argued, because establishing a reparations fund for stateless individuals would ease the financial burden borne by those two countries. Through large contributions to the Red Cross and UNRRA, private philanthropy, and Army food provisioning, U.S. and British citizens already were paying for the care of refugees and displaced persons. Pauley noted optimistically that, "with the moral and social conscience of the average U.S. and British citizen being what it is, one can rest assured that they will continue to bear this burden as long as they have anything to contribute." Nevertheless, Germany should assume full responsibility for providing the necessary assistance. This could be accomplished by "treating the problem of people who are robbed and made stateless by Hitler as a problem of reparations and restitution."60 Although Pauley never had an opportunity to present his ideas to other Allied representatives, he did send it to Secretary of State James Byrnes in August 1945 with hopes that "the matter might be raised by you at the Council of Foreign Ministers in London."61
It is unknown whether Byrnes agreed to this request, but the idea of establishing an organization to represent stateless claimants--particularly Jews--gained momentum in the autumn of 1945. Chaim Weizmann, on behalf of a newly founded Jewish umbrella committee whose members included the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Conference, and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, contacted representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union to demand that the Allies consider the claims of the Jewish people when assessing reparations. Weizmann advocated that if funds were allocated, a portion would go to the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which would use the funds to establish communities in Palestine.62 A delegation from the committee met with Dean Acheson in October to reiterate these arguments, and American Jewish Committee official Jacob Blaustein visited Byrnes for the same reason.63
By late autumn 1945, U.S. officials had decided to raise with the Allies the issue of reparations for persecutees. The leader of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Conference, James W. Angell, provided his French and British counterparts with a summary of the U.S. position on delivering assets to an international organization. "During the negotiations aimed at achieving American aims, U.S. officials consulted with the representatives of Jewish philanthropic organizations and pressured other delegations to make concessions on behalf of Nazi victims."64 The U.S. representatives managed to achieve a consensus agreement before the conference ended.65
Article 8 of the Reparations Agreement provided for an "Allocation of a Reparation Share to Non-Repatriable Victims of German Action." The delegates recognized that "large numbers of persons have suffered heavily at the hands of the Nazis." Although these individuals stood "in dire need of aid to promote their rehabilitation," they would be unable to obtain assistance from any government receiving reparations claims. Therefore, all the non-monetary gold found by the Allies in Germany, up to $25 million from German assets located in neutral countries, and heirless assets "of victims of Nazi action" held in neutral countries would be allocated for "non-repatriable victims." Assistance would be limited to "nationals or former nationals of previously occupied countries who were victims of Nazi concentration camps"; those incarcerated in camps erected by regimes sympathetic to the National Socialists would also be eligible for aid. Furthermore, "refugees from Nazi Germany or Austria" could obtain support if they "cannot be returned to their countries within a reasonable time because of prevailing conditions," while Germans and Austrians still living in those countries might receive assistance "in exceptional cases in which it is reasonable on grounds of humanity to assist such persons to emigrate and providing they emigrate to other countries within a reasonable period." This aid, which would be administered by the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR), would not be used for individual compensation but instead to "further the rehabilitation or resettlement of persons in the eligible classes."66
The Allies postponed discussion of a timetable and procedure for turning the assets over to the IGCR. On June 14, 1946, the United States, Great Britain, France, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia signed an implementation agreement.67 Significantly, it designated 90 percent of all sums made available for "non-repatriable victims" for Jewish resettlement and rehabilitation. The American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) and the Jewish Agency for Palestine would administer these funds, while the IGCR would control the remaining ten percent. Further, neutral countries would transfer 95 percent of heirless victim assets located in their countries to the AJDC and the Jewish Agency for Palestine.68
During the summer of 1946, State Department officials constructed a definition of "non-monetary gold" that included many items not containing the precious metal. The Adjutant General of the War Department (AGWAR) informed OMGUS in August that the State Department favored the "broadest possible interpretation" so that the "general financing burden of [the] U.S. will be decreased."69
In November 1946, a directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to USFET Commanding General McNarney and USFA Commanding General Clark spelled out the definition of "non-monetary gold." The commanders were authorized to release to the IGCR "all valuable personal property which represents loot seized or obtained under duress from political, racial, or religious victims of Nazi Germany or its satellite governments," so long as the material could not be identified as to its nation of origin and restituted according to general restitution policy.70 The instructions advised flexibility when determining whether property was eligible for delivery to the relief agency. Items could be released when the "determination of national origin is impractical;" in determining "impracticality," U.S. military authorities were to assess the "extent of commingling with other property and difficulty and expense of determination of ownership in comparison with [the] value of [the] property."71 In other words, officials in Europe were expected to judge how long it might take to obtain positive identification of items and weigh that against the possible worth of the assets in question. If the investigation seemed to cost more than the value of the asset, they designated the property as "unidentifiable" (thereby not subject to external restitution) and consigned it to the IGCR.
In March 1947, the Council of Foreign Ministers approved the new U.S. definition of "non-monetary gold." In addition, the definition also applied to property seized in the western occupation zones of Austria. 72
Generals McNarney and Clark received additional instructions for designating the types of materials eligible for release. In cases where assets had become heirless, or where the identification of the owner was deemed "impractical," the IGCR would take possession of the property. This category included items of furniture, clothing, and other personal effects "of uncommon value," but excluded property with only "small intrinsic value." Real property interests located in Germany, German currency, instruments of exchange payable in German currency, and "Jewish books, manuscripts, and literature of cultural or religious importance were to remain under American control pending further instructions."73
In this context, the decision to release the contents of the Hungarian "Gold Train" to the relief organization sparked controversy. As Secretary of State George Marshall explained to the U.S. legation in Budapest in 1948, the materials found on the train were "unidentifiable as to owners and, in view of the territorial changes in Hungary, as to national origin." Hungary, an Axis partner of Nazi Germany, had annexed areas of Slovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia before and during the Second World War. Marshall added that, as a consequence of the territorial changes, "restitution to Hungary [was] therefore not feasible."74
As early as December 20, 1945, however, the Temporary Managing Committee of the Central Bureau of Hungarian Jews argued that the United States should return the property to Hungary. The Central Bureau offered a powerful emotional appeal:
The Jews having been robbed also of everything else they possessed, such as clothes, underwear, furniture, etc. It is not only their undoubted right to claim that the objects stored in the railway-cars under American Control, should be rendered to them, but their demand is justified from humane standpoint too. By recovering a part of the valuables lost, many of them could begin to rebuild their homes and their existence.75
The Central Bureau maintained that, except for a relative handful of items, the contents of the Gold Train were confiscated from Jews living under Hungarian jurisdiction, most of them in territories belonging to Hungary as defined by the peace treaty following the First World War. According to Hungarian claims made at the time, the treasures included 10 cases of gold jewelry (45 kg each), 32 cases of gold watches (30-60 kg each), 18 cases of gold jewelry containing gems and semi-precious stones (35 kg each), 1 case of gold coins (100 kg), 1 suitcase containing currency, 1,560 cases filled with silver, 1 case of silver bricks, 3,000 Oriental (Persian) carpets, 100 paintings, and large quantities of furs, porcelain, cameras, and other luxury objects.76
Repeated and persistent requests from Hungarian Jewish representatives and the government 77 did not sway U.S. officials, who continued to insist that the property from the train was "unidentifiable." On May 19, 1947, the U.S. Legation to Hungary defended the decision to release the property from the Gold Train to the relief organization:
With the approval of the United States Government, the Commanding General, U.S. Forces, Austria, determined, that the property should be turned over to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees for relief and rehabilitation of non repatriable victims of German action. This means in practice that ninety per cent of proceeds will be disposed of by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. This decision was based on the fact that it was impracticable to return individual items to the original owners or heirs and is believed to have been made in [the] best interest of the class which was despoiled.78
The Hungarian effort to recover the contents of the Gold Train got nowhere. While there was no policy that allowed for an inspection by a Hungarian Jewish delegation, U.S. authorities appeared insensitive to the pleas of the Hungarian Jews that they be permitted to visit the property warehouse and attempt to identify the assets.
It took two years for the items to appear at auctions in the United States. The IRO opened an office in New York and established a Merchandising Advisory Committee of prominent American businessmen to handle the disposal of assets from the Gold Train along with other property turned over to the relief organization. Crates of Jewish property labeled "unidentifiable as to ownership" started to arrive at Staten Island in mid-December 1947, with initial sales scheduled at the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York in June 1948. The New York Times reported: "In the first [auction], June 16 to 18, jewelry and diamonds will be offered, while in the second, June 20 to 25, silver, glass, china, and gold objects will be put up for bids."79 The Parke-Bernet staff divided the jewelry into 400 catalogue lots, with three to four pieces in each lot. Items in the jewelry sale included a large miscellaneous collection of unset diamonds along with other precious stones, pearls, gold and jeweled watches, and numerous pieces of Victorian jewelry.80
The exact content of the boxes shipped from Europe "were unknown until opened" at the warehouse in New York.81 The New York Times described the scene at the warehouse:
Laid out on tables were dozens of tinted and cut glass goblets and liqueur glasses, decorative porcelain vases, Bohemian cut sapphire blue and ruby glassware, Meissen, Dresden, Herend, Rosenthal, and Vienna porcelain statuettes and figure groups, eighteenth and nineteenth century Continental pewter flagons and tureens....An estimated 22 tons is on hand, marked and unmarked, used and unused, plain and ornate, consisting of every conceivable shape of platter, tureen, tray and dish, and great quantity of candlesticks, vases and dishes, single and sets.82
The warehouse also contained thousands of oriental rugs, as well as cameras, microscopes, tapestries, and thousands of other items.83 The New York Times reported that the sale on June 22, 1948, exceeded expected revenues by 40 percent 84 and the week's receipts totaled $152,850. 85 This and subsequent auctions netted almost $500,000 in sales.86
Even today, there is no consensus either on the identifiability of Gold Train property or whether it should have been restituted to Hungary. Some Hungarian scholars assert that it would have been possible to identify the owners of a great number of objects. They argue that although the Hungarian train commander burned the original inventory complete with names and addresses of the owners, various lists and envelopes survived, which might have provided similar information.87 This contention is based on the records of American Property Control officers who wrote that "lists of names of people from whom some of the items on the train were taken"were found on the Gold Train.88 Nevertheless, the property was turned over to the IRO for auction.
The IRO did not accept all the assets offered to it. The organization rejected items of "low intrinsic value," such as currency that was no longer valid and considered worthless by the issuing country.89 The IRO also refused imitation pearls, bracelets in poor condition, pocketknives, fountain pens, and flashlights.90
By October 1947, the FED in Germany had delivered $747,367 worth of assets to the Preparatory Commission of the International Refugee Organization (PCIRO, the successor to the IGCR). How much came from Austria is unknown; this valuation must be considered a rough estimate only. Representatives from both the FED and the PCIRO endeavored to assess the items set for release to the IRO, but whereas the U.S. officials relied on French appraisals in francs and current French market values, PCIRO evaluators made their calculations in U.S. dollars and current U.S. market values. The two agencies therefore only came to "tentative agreed valuation." 91 The items obtained included wedding rings, precious metal bars made from melted-down jewelry, precious jewelry, dental gold and platinum, cigarette cases, cameras, china and crystal ware, medallions, clocks and watches, and silverware.92 U.S. authorities released other assets to the PCIRO and its successor, the IRO, up to 1950. In December 1950, the final balance sheet for the FED showed that the IRO, had obtained 1,197,416 units of undefined content valued at $808,369. 93
Thus, U.S. military authorities delivered to the relief organization finally known as the International Refugee Organization approximately $800,000 worth of property recovered in Germany and an undetermined amount found in Austria. Most of these assets belonged to Holocaust victims, for they came largely from property discovered at concentration camps. U.S. officials encouraged a quick characterization of property as "unidentifiable" regarding former owner or nationality so that the IRO might more rapidly acquire these assets. The Allies turned property over to the IRO to assist in the resettlement and rehabilitation of former persecutees, so the desire to proceed quickly is certainly understandable.
The Restitution of Identifiable Property in Germany: Law 59
Restitution to victims within Germany, known as "internal restitution," began in late 1947 with the promulgation of Military Government Law 59, entitled the "Restitution of Identifiable Property." Despite the limited measures envisioned by State Department officials in 1944, U.S. planners and military authorities decided to apply a comprehensive legal framework for persons deprived of property "for reasons of race, religion, nationality, ideology or political opposition to National Socialism." 94 The United States imposed this law on its zone of occupation, but the drafting of the legislation as well as its implementation involved cooperation with German authorities as well as Jewish representatives.
Beginning in the summer of 1945, German state officials independently prepared drafts of restitution laws in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Greater Hesse. U.S. authorities had not requested such proposals and subsequently paid little attention to them.95 Only after the Property Disposition Board, an agency within OMGUS, recommended in March 1946 that the Stuttgart Länderrat (legislature) develop a comprehensive restitution law did U.S. officials begin working extensively with German representatives on this issue.96
U.S. policy aimed to return governmental responsibilities to German hands as soon as possible, not only to relieve U.S. forces of many administrative burdens, but also to begin teaching German politicians the precepts of democracy.97 The American delegation present at the initial meetings concerning restitution clearly stated what it expected the law to entail but allowed the German representatives to craft the proposals. The United States wanted immediate relief measures for individual persecutees, followed by suggestions for returning property to organizations. U.S. officials told their German counterparts that the financing of the restitution program would probably have to come from property confiscated from individual Nazis and party agencies. OMGUS expected a draft law by mid-May 1946, and hoped the legislation might take effect by July.98
The United States Military Government found the subsequent Länderrat proposals unacceptable because there was no provision for the return of property Aryanized by private citizens. Instead, the Länderrat limited restitution to assets the Nazi state had seized and which were then held publicly.99 Thus began an extended debate in which German officials, American military government authorities, and representatives from five Jewish groups discussed the legislation.100 The protracted negotiations, slowed by U.S. attempts to gain quadripartite approval, dashed hopes for the speedy enactment of restitution laws in Germany. German representatives still tried to avoid including property held by private citizens, while U.S. and Jewish officials maintained that a presumption of duress had to be assumed for property transfers from Jewish to non-Jewish hands following the promulgation of the discriminatory Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935. 101
Other issues also engendered dispute. No unanimous opinion existed about how to supervise the restitution process. In a draft law of July 25, 1946, Nehemiah Robinson, Director of the Office of Indemnification for the World Jewish Congress, proposed establishing indemnification agencies in each German Land. Minister presidents would appoint two officials to oversee each agency, a Jewish representative organization would appoint two individuals, representatives of another category of victims would name one member, and the U.S. Military Governor would designate two other officials from among his personnel. Only two German citizens, moreover, would sit on a five-member review panel.102 The German Länderrat representatives, on the other hand, argued that only Germans should administer the restitution program.103
Another point of contention emerged over the disposition of heirless assets. Here significant differences of opinion separated U.S. officials and Jewish representatives. OMGUS authorities initially favored using the assets to help surviving persecutees in Germany, an idea shared by some German Jewish communities. OMGUS also feared that a large property transfer out of the country might upset the overall economic recovery of Germany. Jewish groups outside Germany believed that a successor organization would make the best use of these funds which could support rehabilitation for and resettlement of Jews in other parts of the world. By late autumn 1946, General Clay subscribed to this latter point of view and agreed with the president of the American Jewish Committee, Joseph M. Proskauer, that OMGUS choose the successor organization. Given the close involvement of U.S. Jewish leaders with the formulation of the restitution law, this agreement increased the likelihood that military authorities would designate a U.S.-led successor organization, as opposed to a German-based agency.104
The German legislators never fully agreed with any of the restitution provisions worked out in conjunction with U.S. military authorities and Jewish representatives. The Länderrat refused to take political responsibility for enacting such a law, objecting to "certain of its more rigorous aspects" and its possible implementation in only one zone of Germany.105 Some U.S. officials, too, questioned the desirability of establishing restitution legislation solely in the U.S. Zone of occupation. The promulgation of a military law would raise doubts about how effectively German courts might enforce that law and therefore require the creation of U.S. tribunals.106 In addition, overall policy still dictated that U.S. officials in Germany seek to obtain agreement among the Allies on such broad issues. In this instance, however, officials in Washington would have been satisfied even if only the British agreed to enact the draft restitution law ready by the summer of 1947. 107
Such agreement proved elusive. The United States, Great Britain, and France did concur on several important facets of restitution, including the ideas that zone commanders should decide how to dispose of heirless assets, that a presumption of duress transference of property should exist, and that all persecutees should receive equal treatment under the law. The Soviets, alternatively, argued that heirless assets should escheat to the state, that claimants should prove duress, and that the restitution law should exclude former Germans who had accepted a new nationality.108
Another major issue dividing all of the powers was the successor organization. The Soviets believed heirless assets should become state property, while the French argued for establishing an agency that would assist all Nazi victims, not merely Jews.109 Middle East interests helped define the British position. Fearing that assets transferred to an outside Jewish successor organization might be used for augmenting Jewish settlements in British-controlled Palestine, the British urged that heirless property revert to a German relief agency.110 By the autumn of 1947, the United States, France, and Great Britain came to a compromise: each zone commander could choose the successor organization he wanted. Other issues remained outstanding, including the question of whether claimants or another agency should receive the profits accrued during the period of expropriation.111 By October 1947, General Clay finally decided to promulgate the restitution law as a military law in the U.S. Zone.112
U.S. military authorities insisted on maximum publicity for this legislation, which took effect November 10, 1947. When Clay informed his superiors in Washington that he had chosen to announce the law without waiting any longer for a quadripartite agreement, he stated,
It is important that publicity be given to this law and implementing regulations in all countries of the world. We will make them available to all [military missions] accredited to [the] Allied Control Authority and Consulates accredited to [the military government]. Please request [the State Department] to transmit pertinent documents to every nation and request that each duly publicize them to its own nationals and residents.
Clay requested that the State Department or Department of the Army draw attention to this law within the United States by distributing it to the Federal Register and private publications.113 By the end of the month, the State Department instructed its overseas missions to convey the substance of the law to foreign governments.114
The urgency of General Clay's request stemmed from the realization that many claimants no longer lived in Germany and otherwise would not find out about the new restitution law. Perhaps the primary motivation for the wide and speedy announcement of Military Law 59 had to do with the short deadline for filing claims. According to Article 56, all petitions for restitution had to be submitted by December 31, 1948. 115 The military authorities extended the deadline to June 30, 1949, for "meritorious" claims.116
Law 59 aimed to "effect to the largest extent possible the speedy restitution of identifiable property...to persons who were wrongfully deprived of such property within the period from 30 January 1933 to 8 May 1945 for reasons of race, religion, nationality, ideology, or political opposition to National Socialism."117 Several provisions of this legislation merit attention. First, the law applied only to the U.S. Zone of occupation, including Bremen but not the U.S. sector of Berlin.118 A presumption of duress existed for properties that had been transferred from persecutees since September 15, 1935 (the promulgation of the first Nuremberg Laws).119 Anyone found to have obtained property under duress would be liable to the original owner for damages and the profits generated since Aryanization.120 The law even went so far as to require individuals who even suspected that assets in their possession had been confiscated to report them to the Central Filing Agency by May 15, 1948.121
The Central Filing Agency, located in Bad Nauheim, also processed victims' claims for restitution. Significantly, the petitions did not initially require documented proof of former ownership. Claimants submitted a description of the confiscated property along with an accounting of the time, place, and circumstances of its confiscation. Further, petitioners offered the name and address, if either were known, of the potential restitutor.122
The filing agency then transferred the petition to a Restitution Agency (or Agencies) in the German state in which the property was located. By mid-April 1948, Bremen, Hesse, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg had established such agencies.123 These offices were responsible for notifying the potential restitutor, or the State Minister of Finance, if the assets had fallen into the custody of the state, and for attempting to reach an amicable settlement. If the parties could not agree to such a settlement, the case would be referred to the Restitution Chamber of the District Court. Three judges--one of whom belonged to the class of persecutees identified by the law--heard the cases referred to this chamber. Claimants or restitutors who disagreed with initial judgments could appeal to the Civil Division of the Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgerichte) or, finally, a supreme Board of Review.124 Only U.S. judges were included on this board.125
Finally, the legislation stipulated that the U.S. military authorities designate a successor organization to administer heirless assets and also to obtain title to victims' property unclaimed as of the December 31, 1948 deadline. The U.S.-based Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) became the agency empowered to submit such claims.126
The Jewish Restitution Successor Organization
The need for a Jewish successor organization to handle heirless assets surfaced before the war's end. In his book, Indemnification and Reparations--Jewish Aspects, Nehemiah Robinson of the World Jewish Congress argued that the property of murdered Jews should not escheat to the German state.127 Instead, these assets ought to be utilized to ameliorate the physical and economic hardships of survivors. He expected most of the survivors to scatter throughout the world and he believed that only an international organization could obtain and distribute the material assistance necessary to support them. His idea gained recognition and acceptance when the conference of the World Jewish Congress decided at its November 1944 meeting to establish a successor organization 128 to assist in the rehabilitation of European Jewry and to help develop Palestine as a Jewish state.129
The foundations for what became the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) appeared in the summer of 1945, when five American-based Jewish groups formed a committee to represent Jewish interests in reparations and restitution negotiations. An additional component emerged later that year, when U.S. Jewish religious leaders, scholars, and teachers created the Commission on European Jewish Reconstruction.130
In late autumn 1946, General Clay met with representatives of both agencies and agreed to support the designation of a Jewish successor organization to obtain Jewish heirless assets and cultural treasures.131 On May 15, 1947, "The Jewish Restitution Commission" was incorporated as a charitable organization in New York. The new commission served initially as an umbrella for seven organizations: the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Conference, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Commission on European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction. In order to achieve full legitimacy as an organization representing the world Jewish community, the Jewish Restitution Commission widened its constituent membership to include agencies such as the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Germany and the Agudat Israel World Organization.132 It eventually changed its name to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, evidently at the request of American military authorities.133
The JRSO was designed to "acquire, receive, hold, maintain and distribute for purposes of Jewish relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, resettlement, and immigration, the property of Jews, Jewish organizations, cultural and charitable funds and foundations, and communities which were victims of Nazi or Fascist persecution or discrimination."134 State Department officials quickly accepted the JRSO request for appointment in November 1947, but Major General Daniel Noce, the Chief of Civil Administration of the War Department, objected. He argued that the successor organization must be German and that the assets it acquired had to be used within Germany--precisely the contention raised by American allies and ultimately rejected in the autumn of 1947.135 His objection extended the delay until June 23, 1948, when OMGUS appointed the JRSO. 136
The Director General of the JRSO in Germany, Benjamin B. Ferencz, initially believed that the December 31, 1948 deadline for filing claims would be impossible to meet. General Clay refused to grant the JRSO an extension, but he did permit Ferencz to borrow one million Occupation Marks to finance the JRSO operations in the autumn of 1948. 137
The JRSO employed more than 300 clerks, typists, investigators, and lawyers to work around the clock during the summer and autumn of 1948. Military authorities permitted the JRSO to examine Nazi documents and property control files in the American zone to locate information about confiscated Jewish property. Such evidence included real estate registries, commercial registries, tax returns, bank files, pawnbroker records, and notary records.138 Ferencz and his team copied all entries containing "Jewish-sounding names."139 JRSO officials also examined reports filed by Germans in possession of duress properties.140 Of course, the JRSO did not have access to the records or recollections of families that had been scattered or even worse, killed.
According to the JRSO, its employees managed to produce eight copies of each claim at a rate of 2,000 per day. By December 1948, it had lodged over 163,000 claims at the Central Filing Office in Bad Nauheim. The organization later recognized that it had no time initially to determine whether heirs still existed for some properties. Instead, its policy had been to "claim everything and later sort the wheat from the chaff."141 Despite the few months with which it had to operate, the JRSO observed in 1953 that "nothing has appeared in the past five years to indicate that substantial assets were overlooked in [its] desperate rush to safeguard Jewish interests."142
Having amassed the claims, the JRSO next worked to determine how many duplicates existed. The JRSO discovered that not only did it "compete" with petitions completed by previous owners before the 1948 deadline, but also it received demands from individuals months and even years later for assets the JRSO had claimed as "heirless."
"We were not out to enrich the JRSO," Ferencz explained. Rather, the organization's aim was to provide assistance to Jews worldwide as quickly as possible. "We were under great pressure to liquidate our holdings; we couldn't wait with these properties to see if someone would eventually claim them." The idea was to "get [the assets] to where they were needed as soon as possible."143 By mid-1954, the JRSO had released assets amounting to $3.5 million to claimants.144
Another imposing obstacle remained before the distribution of material relief could begin. Many German restitutors balked at making amicable settlements because they expected a new, less severe restitution law. Because of the delay, more cases had to be adjudicated in court and took time to resolve. In February 1950, JRSO officials suggested to the American High Commissioner for Germany, John J. McCloy, that the organization approach the Länder and negotiate lump-sum settlements. McCloy reacted enthusiastically to this idea and arranged meetings between JRSO representatives and German state officials.145
Negotiations between the two groups encountered many problems, and over a year passed before Hesse became the first Land to settle with the JRSO. It offered almost $6 million to the successor organization, whittled down by "various deductions and deletions" to about $4 million. 146 In 1951, Bremen agreed to transfer almost $500,000 to the JRSO, while Württemberg-Baden conceded approximately $2.5 million. Bavaria followed in 1952 by promising about $4.8 million. 147 Although the settlements transferred assets to the JRSO rapidly, the director of the organization in Germany remained dissatisfied with the entire process. Benjamin B. Ferencz told the New York Times, "we are selling under duress because we are afraid of what will happen when the Germans take over." He continued, "at best, we can only wind up with a poor amelioration of the desperate plight in which the Jews find themselves in tents in Israel, while the Germans will retain the Jews' former homes and properties."148
Problems with Restitution
Restitution under Law 59 did not proceed smoothly. The Military Government's strict adherence to the December 31, 1948, deadline meant that some victims failed to file claims in time. Individuals sometimes discovered that the JRSO had submitted a claim for their property and they then turned to the successor organization for restitution; the JRSO handled over 4,800 such claims by 1955. 149 After internal discussion, 150 the JRSO agreed to restitute property to such claimants even though it had obtained title to such assets under Military Law 59. 151 It did, however, assess a service charge to the late petitioners to cover its costs. The fees depended on the relationship of the claimant to the former owner and the appraisal of the property. If the JRSO had actually recovered a property, a surcharge of ten percent augmented these costs (although the organization reduced this to five percent if a claimant was indigent).152
One claimant sharply criticized U.S. authorities for "awarding" her property to the JRSO. She argued that she had not heard about the filing deadline until after it had passed, and instead discovered that, "I shall be punished because the Occupation Army, for whom my husband and I pay plenty, deems it right to take my property and gives it to who knows whom." 153 The frustration and anger expressed in this letter likely mirrored the sentiments of other claimants who missed the deadline; individuals hurled "demands" and "protests" at the JRSO for the immediate return of their property.154
In 1948, the introduction of currency reform--the Deutschmark replaced the Reichsmark--in the western German zones of occupation caused the "greatest difficulties" for restitution progress, according to a HICOG official.155 Different conversion rates covered different debts.
The exchange ratio was graded according to the nature of the debt: wages, salaries and rents were transposed at the ratio of 1-1, mortgages and other private debts at the rate of 1:10. Holders of bank deposits and cash had to be satisfied with an exchange ratio of DM 6.5 : RM 100. Altogether 93.5 percent of the former stock of Reichsmark was withdrawn from circulation.156
The variation produced tension between claimants and restitutors; disagreements about the real worth of a given asset reduced the willingness of disputants to settle claims amicably and forced court proceedings.157 In Württemberg-Baden, "The arbitrators frequently practice agreements on the ground 10:5 that are accepted both by the restitutors and the claimants,"158 but for those unwilling to agree to such a formula, court action delayed the return of property, or an equivalent sum, to claimants.
Another problem afflicting restitution concerned the size of the endeavor itself. Given the magnitude of the program, potential for fraud existed. The Property Control Division of OMGUS held ultimate authority for supervising the return of so-called "duress property," but it also possessed responsibility for seizing, holding, and disposing of several other categories of assets, including those belonging to National Socialists and their organizations. Between 1945 and 1949, Property Control took custody of 153,759 properties, estimated to be worth RM 13,745 million.159 Significantly, German citizens performed many of the daily operations as American military government authorities in 1946 swiftly began transferring administrative responsibilities to German Property Control offices in the various Länder.160 Between two and three thousand German civilians worked for the Land Civilian Agencies and their supporting county agencies. The approximately 80,000 property custodians who were "responsible for operating and preserving the assets of the property,"161 greatly augmented the number of German personnel involved in property control administration.162
Although the American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) checked their backgrounds,163 not all custodians proved themselves honest and reliable. During the first three months of 1948, Land property control officials conducted about 3,500 formal inspections of properties in custody and subsequently recommended the removal of 54 custodians due to a variety of abuses including black market activities, political unreliability, embezzlement, failure to comply with military government directives, illegal sale of assets, and gross negligence. Many of the custodians were fined or jailed.164 U.S. officials also charged that in Bavaria, restitution agencies did not consider claims in numerical order, "but rather act only where it is more likely that the claim will be partially, or totally, rejected."165
Questions of personal impropriety also surfaced within the higher levels of the restitution administration. Dr. Sebastian Endres, the Head of the Bavarian Land Central Office for Restitution, retained that position even after the Office of Military Government (OMG) for Bavaria obtained information that he had employed slave labor during the Third Reich. According to a report filed in October 1948, Endres had managed an Aryanized machine factory, becoming a "fanatic war sympathizer" and doing "everything possible to include the firm in the war effort." By 1941 the firm had employed slave laborers, and "as early as 19 May 1941 [Endres] requested radical treatment for these prisoners." The report continued, "with the coming of steady defeats in Russia and the realization that the war was probably lost, Endres began having the slave laborers in the firm beaten, starved, and brutally over-worked punishing them not only for minor mistakes but also for exhaustion."166 Despite this information and subsequent complaints levied against him, Endres remained in his position at least through April 1951. 167
Along with Endres, other Germans administering restitution in Bavaria raised suspicions. OMG Bavaria surveyed the professional and personal histories of officials involved with restitution and provided a list of those whose backgrounds appeared most dubious. Several had been members of the Nazi party, though one had been "exonerated" by denazification courts and one had filed a restitution claim himself. The Chief of Field Operations for Property Control, Werner Loewenthal, queried: did American supervision of the restitution program include "the responsibility to assure the political reliability of personnel" or allow the employment of persecutees who sought assets? 168 Loewenthal's question indicates uneasiness within the Property Control Division that German officials with suspect sympathies might impede restitution efforts.
Not surprisingly, many German restitutors hesitated before relinquishing "their" property. As early as 1946, the first Land representatives charged with constructing restitution legislation knew that such a law would prove unpopular and refused to enact restitution measures once the Americans insisted on the presumption of duress. By 1949, however, German restitutors sought to delay proceedings, evidently because they believed the severity of the law would ease. The Property Division for OMG Bavaria noted in January 1949 that "there are indications of passive resistance to [Law 59]. Influential German citizens affected by the law believe that Military Government will make modifications if the program does not run smoothly," so they undertook efforts to delay any restitution action.169 A later report provided details of the delaying tactics: individuals waited until the last possible moment to respond to restitution notices and then requested a postponement of hearings.170
In February 1949, the Property Division Branch in Bavaria claimed that "cases involving influential people are being postponed and apprehension exists that, unless Military Government maintains an active interest in these courts, the program will take a similar trend to that of the denazification law"-- meaning that its current prosecution would weaken or even become more favorable to the "Aryanizer."171
The Restitution Section of the Ministry of Justice in Baden-Württemberg shared this assessment. Officials there contended that Germans affected by claims "take the standpoint that in the restitution case [it] will be the same as in the denazification, i.e. the more the procedure is prolonged the more favorable will be [the] decision for the restitutor." Further, many believed that the new Federal Republic, established May 23, 1949, would promulgate a single restitution law to replace the four existing statutes present in each of the three Allied territories and Berlin. Restitutors hoped that the new legislation would be "modeled after the mildest" law then in place.172
Such notions gained political currency when, in November 1949, a political party (the Freie Demokratische Partei) submitted a motion for uniform restitution legislation to the German Parliament (Bundestag).173 This act received "wide publicity by the German press and radio," according to an official with the Internal Restitution Supervision Branch.174 The Acting Advisor on Jewish Affairs to the U.S. Commands in Germany and Austria, Major Abraham S. Hyman, quickly responded to this political maneuvering. He countered that to ignore the motion "would encourage other parties to consolidate their strength in a drive to dilute the restitution laws" and that without swift opposition, restitutors might gain false expectations that a new, milder law would soon emerge and thus continue to reject amicable settlements. Major Hyman presented his concerns to American High Commissioner John J. McCloy, who in turn declared publicly that the Americans would tolerate no weakening of Military Law 59. 175
In addition to the delaying tactics adopted by restitutors, the lack of speed with which German authorities settled claims concerned U.S. supervisors. OMGUS informed the Military Governments in the Länder in January 1949 that "deficiencies" in "administrative requirements and adequate financial allowances" had begun to hinder restitution efforts. Military authorities in these states were directed to ensure that "responsibility for administration and supervision should be vested in a competent administrative official," that "sufficient qualified personnel should be authorized to cope with present and future work-load[s]," that "adequacy of facilities" for all restitution offices "must be assured," and "adequate budgetary allowances to meet requirements in personnel, facilities and supplies must be assured through specific financial appropriations and allocations."176
Later that month, Fred Hartzsch, the Chief of the Property Control and External Assets Branch, Property Division, OMGUS, along with the Chief of the Claims Section, John Porter, toured the Länder to review property control and restitution issues. In Bremen they found that "on the basis of the number of petitions received and the processing of such petitions, the record...is on the whole good."177 In Hesse, on the other hand, Porter noted that German "restrictions presently existing on employment of personnel, the reductions in personnel, and the reclassification of personnel [were] seriously impairing the proper functioning of the [restitution] Agencies and Courts." Porter suggested that the Deputy Director for Military Government in Hesse, Sheehan, discuss this problem with appropriate German officials "to secure sufficient budgetary appropriations and allocations for the expansion of organization and personnel required for the execution of the restitution program."178
In Baden-Württemberg, similar personnel and financial difficulties existed. Here, however, resistance from German officials evidently posed the greatest hindrance. Porter revealed that "the Ministry of Justice [in Württemberg-Baden] had made a direct appeal for intervention to secure sufficient financial allowances in order effectively to do what is necessary in connection with the restitution program which had thus far been met with outright refusal on the part of the German governmental officials." Another U.S. official, Zinn Garret, confirmed Porter's allegation and mentioned that he had already drafted a letter to the Minister President of the Land "designed to correct this situation."179 In Bavaria, too, Porter advised that a letter should be sent to the Minister President to secure additional resources for speeding up the restitution program.180
A U.S. official in Bavaria, Harold S. Kidder, provided an example in April 1949 of how the German restitution bureaucracy tended to move very slowly. He surmised that his district held the largest number of duress properties--almost 4,000--in Bavaria. "One should expect the [restitution] agencies would be very busy. To date, to my knowledge there has been no meeting of the Restitution Chambers," even though at least seventeen cases had been sent to them. The committee designed to effect amicable settlements held only four to six meetings per month. Although Kidder prodded the restitution officials to speed matters along, "nothing has been done."181
Despite the efforts of U.S. officials to pressure German restitution authorities, by the end of November 1949, restitution agencies throughout the American zone had disposed of only 12 percent of the cases received. The Chief of the Internal Restitution Supervision Branch, W.M. Loewenthal, estimated that at this rate the agencies would require about four years to settle all claims. He calculated that about 23 percent of cases would require adjudication in restitution chambers; at the 1949 rate, litigation of these cases would not end until almost 1958.182 Loewenthal proposed an almost four-fold increase in settlements per month in each Land.183
Nevertheless, by October 1950, as many as two-thirds of individual claims remained unresolved.184 In an attempt to expedite the process, the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany amended Law 59. The first amendment reduced stays of proceedings that the restitution agencies and chambers could grant claimants from six to three months. Second, losing parties in restitution cases would bear court fees and costs. This measure meant to dissuade those who filed appeals primarily to delay final settlement.185 Years continued to pass before restitution in Germany concluded, but the pace of efforts certainly increased. By the end of 1953, almost 93 percent of individual claims had been settled.186
Military Law 59 did not apply to Berlin. The city nevertheless contained much property once belonging to victims; the Deputy Chief of the OMGUS Property Division, W.J. Dickmann, revealed that over 1,500 duress properties had been seized by April 1948. 187 The negotiations among the Allies in Berlin about restitution policy remain unclear, but on July 26, 1949, the United States, Great Britain, and France issued the Berlin Kommandatura Order (49) 180. As in the U.S. Zone, restitution agencies and chambers administered claims for victims' property, and litigants could appeal claims to the Board of Review, consisting of judges from the United States.188 By December 1973 over DM 463 million had been restituted to individual claimants in West Berlin.189
Restitution Efforts in Austria
Restitution efforts in Austria differed somewhat from those in Germany. As in Germany, U.S. Reparations, Deliveries, and Restitution Division (RD&R) authorities administered external restitution. But unlike Germany, where American officials administered internal restitution, in Austria a new democratically elected government was responsible for enacting and implementing internal restitution policy. Although they maintained a supervisory role, the Allied powers entrusted Austrian authorities with the task of restituting victims' assets that had been Aryanized while Austria was part of the Reich (1938-1945). This peculiar arrangement resulted from the Allies' declaration in Moscow on November 1, 1943 that their governments regarded the German annexation (Anschluss) of Austria on March 15, 1938, as "null and void," that Austria was the "first free country to fall a victim to Hitlerite aggression," and that they wished to "see re-established a free and independent Austria." 190 They added, however, that Austria, despite its status as a "liberated" nation, still had "a responsibility, which she cannot evade, for participation in the war" at the side of Nazi Germany.191
At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Allies decided that Austria, like Germany, would be divided into four zones of occupation. United States Forces in Austria (USFA) was created from the Supreme Allied Command Mediterranean Theater and placed under the command of General Mark Clark. When Allied armies divided Austria into four separate zones of occupation, they permitted, if not encouraged, Austria to reestablish first a provisional, then an elected, federal government soon after hostilities ceased. Furthermore, they reserved the right to ensure the "protection, care, and restitution of property belonging to the Governments [sic] of any of the United Nations or their nationals."192 U.S. officials thus became responsible for locating and returning those assets located in their zone of occupation.
U.S. Army units discovered several large repositories of looted assets in Austria. These assets had accumulated in the Austrian "redoubt" because of the presence of safe storage facilities and also because the German Army maintained control of that area until the end of the war.193 In order to locate and identify stolen assets, other than those found in the large repositories, within Austria generally and in their zone in particular, U.S. authorities released with the other occupying powers a "Decree on the Declaration and Registration of Property Belonging to the United Nations."194 This regulation took effect on May 25, 1946, and it required all institutions and private individuals to declare within thirty days all the looted movable property and assets valued at more than 500 Schillings in their possession.195
The evidence documenting American external restitution from both Germany and Austria did not distinguish between assets belonging to Holocaust victims and non-victims. It is nevertheless clear that American troops discovered property belonging to victims of the Holocaust in Austria, especially at the Alt-Aussee salt mine. Several caves there contained paintings, furniture, and other items owned by "important Jewish families such as Rothschild, Bondi, Pollak, Gutmann" and others.196
American restitution officials accepted claims up to January 19, 1949. 197 A report issued by the American High Commissioner for Austria on October 1, 1950, revealed that U.S. forces had received a total of 3,989 claims, of which they disallowed 2,940. 198 Total restitution amounted to over 3,000 freight cars worth of assets valued at $198 million. 199 A document published about a year earlier, with approximately 88 percent of the restitution program completed, offered a more detailed analysis of the types of materials returned to countries. For instance, as of July 31, 1949, RD&R had restituted over $155 million of art, more than 90 percent of it to the government of Austria. Industrial equipment amounted to about $21 million, transport equipment approximately $11 million, and "other properties" restituted totaled close to $10 million. 200
The Austrian government enacted legislation concerning internal restitution soon after the end of the war. These laws, which the American Property Control Branch widely publicized in the United States, dealt with looted property held by the state and individuals, as well as the restitution of pensions, wages, and so forth for those whom the Nazis forced out of work. 201 As of September 30, 1952, a total of 43,475 claims had been filed under the main restitution laws, including 30,398 pertaining to cases of individuals holding Aryanized property.202 This document, unfortunately, failed to list a total value for these claims.
Before the Allies signed the State Treaty with Austria in 1955, they could by unanimous consent annul legislation passed by the Austrian parliament.203 Not all of the restitution laws received unanimous approval from the occupying powers, but all took effect. In the early 1950s, however, when the Austrian parliament attempted to weaken certain aspects of the restitution legislation (allowing Aryanizers to reclaim enterprises already restituted, for instance), the Allied Commission objected. The parliament never enacted this "Reacquisition Law," as it was known.204
As the occupation ended, the Allies sought to ensure that Austria fulfilled its obligation to return property looted from victims. The treaty of 1955 specifically provided that Austria was responsible for disposing of assets confiscated from those persecuted because of race or religion. As far as possible, Austrian authorities were to return property to former owners, or grant compensation when restitution was "impossible." Heirless or assets unclaimed after six months would be transferred to the control of the Austrian government. The Austrians would then deliver "such property, rights, and interests to appropriate agencies or organizations" that the Allies would designate. These assets would then be used "for the relief and rehabilitation of victims of persecution by the Axis Powers."205
Recovery of Property in the United States
American officials imposed strict controls on assets belonging to foreign nationals during the war years. On August 8, 1946, Congress passed legislation amending the Trading with the Enemy Act so that former persecutees or their heirs could reclaim their property. Congress defined the persecutees as individuals "deprived of life or substantially deprived of liberty pursuant to any law, decree, or regulation [or who were victims of] discrimination against political, racial, or religious groups...in an enemy country."206 As a later report issued by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary characterized this legislation, "by this amendment a necessary and clear-cut distinction was effected between the property of those individuals who were in fact our enemies in the last war, and those who by their extreme persecution at the hands of their governments were the 'enemies of our enemies' and our own allies." 207
Unblocking Assets at the FFC
Just as the Treasury Department initiated control of foreign assets well before the United States entered the Second World War, so it started to consider the issue of how to end those controls in January 1944, well before hostilities ended.208 The end of controls involved efforts on two tracks for Foreign Funds Control. The agency developed an extensive "defrosting" program designed to end wartime controls of "frozen" assets while ensuring the exposure of enemy interests in such accounts; it additionally sought to end restrictions on trade and imports, while preventing looted assets from reaching the market. The defrosting program relied heavily on cooperation with the governments of liberated and neutral nations. Faced with declining resources, and pressed to terminate the wartime controls with all due speed, the FFC decentralized the procedure, devolving responsibility for the certification of assets to foreign governments. The overall program was generally successful, since the majority of all frozen assets were eventually certified and unblocked. FFC's efforts with respect to looted property are more difficult to judge. While the wartime restrictions on trade and imports were quickly removed, the issue of looted property lingered and responsibility for U.S. efforts eventually passed from the FFC, which ceased operations in September 1948, to the Office of Alien Property.
The Treasury Department did not intend to maintain controls on foreign funds beyond the point where they were essential.209 "It is the intention of the Treasury Department," Acting Foreign Funds Control (FFC) Director Orvis Schmidt said in a speech on October 9, 1944, "to relax and eliminate them as rapidly as can be done consistent with the protection of American financial interests and the completion of Foreign Funds Control's wartime objectives."210 These objectives included:
* protection of American creditors deprived during the war period of their normal recourse against foreign debtors;
* protection of American financial institutions against adverse claims resulting from conflicts over ownership or control of foreign companies, doubtful validity of transfers of property under enemy occupation, payment orders executed under duress, and other consequences of the confused commercial and financial situation emerging from the war;
* insuring against concealment or release of enemy assets held through non-enemy financial institutions; and
* prevention of the completion of transactions effected under duress or for the benefit of the enemy. 211
Such objectives could not, however, be met unless there was an "orderly transition" and a "gradual removal of controls" in a defrosting program, 212 at the very least because the situations in enemy-occupied (France, Norway, Belgium, Holland), enemy (Germany, Japan), and neutral countries (Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal) differed.213 "A lack of safeguards at the time of the lifting of freezing restrictions," a contemporary analysis noted, "would cause harm to many legitimate interests."214
The issue of cloaked or looted assets, and of financial transactions carried out under duress, loomed large. The United States--at least in the view of the Chief Counsel and Associate Chief Counsel of the FFC--"was committed to supporting an international program for 'preventing the liquidation of property looted by the enemy'," as Resolution VI at Bretton Woods had stated.215 A simple lifting of controls might allow "frozen" transactions that had been made under duress to be completed, cloaked assets in neutral countries would enter the marketplace, and the lifting of wartime import restrictions might turn the United States into a major market for looted securities. Worse, "the unqualified release of frozen funds...might easily result in the surrender of frozen funds to the enemy" or "to those adherents of the enemy's cause who will seek to continue their warfare into the postwar period."216 The parallels with the beginning of the war were not lost on the FFC: "We find that considerations very similar to those which led to the original application of the freezing controls make it strongly undesirable to completely wipe out the controls immediately after the liberation of the country by Allied armed might," acting FFC Director Orvis Schmidt put it in October of 1944.217 This view suggested that similar policy solutions were in order, in this case adopting a "certification" program (like the wartime "licensing") that permitted legitimate transactions but tried to control undesirable transactions.218 The gradual, successive "freezing" of assets before and during the war suggested a gradual, successive "defrosting" of assets after the war. There was also a sense that if the United States had acted as a trustee in freezing foreign property, "it would be anomalous to permit such a trust relation to serve as a medium for putting owners in a worse position than that which they enjoyed at the time when the relationship was created."219
Defrosting was a three-step process. First, the UnitedStates reopened communication with liberated areas between November 1944 and May 1945. Each liberated area was declared to be no longer "enemy territory," and hence its residents were no longer "enemy nationals" and thus no longer subjected to General Ruling 11 that had prohibited trade and communication with the enemy unless authorized by license.220 Adequate machinery, according to the FFC, had to be established in the liberated area to prohibit certain transactions, such as:
a) the completion of payments, transfers, withdrawals, or other transactions effected under duress, compulsion, or other unlawful means during the period of occupation;
b) the recognition of changes of ownership, powers of attorney, changes in signing authority, or the consummation or validation of other transactions effected under duress and compulsion even though ostensibly legalized by enemy decrees, and
c) the dissipation or hiding of funds owned by or cloaked for enemy interests or persons collaborating with them, or by the completion of any other transactions benefiting such persons.
Initially, these assurances were obtained from the Allied military authorities operating within the liberated area.221
By May 1945, all formerly occupied European countries were no longer "enemy territory." The ban on communication with Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and the Allied-occupied parts of Italy was lifted in October 1944, but for Germany and Japan this ban was not lifted until March 1947. 222
The second step, carried out from October to December 1945, started business and financial transactions with European countries anew. As a matter of policy, the United States wanted the post-liberation governments to take over the responsibility for meeting the objectives of freezing control, and ensure that "no transactions effected under duress were permitted to be consummated contrary to the wishes of the rightful owners of the funds."223 Yet foreign-controlled property remained blocked in the United States, and transactions in such property still required licenses.
Thus, only new, postwar financial transactions were defrosted in this second stage. The UnitedStates permitted trade and commerce, with the dollars consequently generated considered "free" rather than "frozen." To start this process, FFC removed existing controls on financial transactions country by country. This was a rather inefficient way to relax controls, and so on December 7, 1945, General License 94 unblocked all current transactions and all new dollar assets in all blocked countries (excepting Germany, Japan, the four European neutrals, Liechtenstein, and Tangier).224
Two of the provisions of General License 94 were particularly relevant to individuals. Nationals of specified blocked countries who were not in a blocked country had their property immediately unblocked, and newly created "free" foreign-owned assets did not need to be reported in the United States.225 Securities still needed certification, however, and had to be surrendered (under General Ruling 5) if imported into the United States.226 Suspicion remained that property ostensibly owned by the nationals of friendly countries was in fact secretly owned by enemies. Neutral nations were also excluded from General Ruling 94 "until they have taken effective action to search out, immobilize, and control all enemy assets within their jurisdiction,"227 with the result that Switzerland and Liechtenstein remained blocked until late November 1946. Germany, Japan, and Sweden were unblocked in March of 1947; Spain and Portugal followed in 1948. 228
The third step was the certification process. The United States demanded that foreign governments investigate and ascertain the true ownership of blocked property. Certification would be supplied by an official government agency that would verify the ownership of the property, thereby placing the responsibility for determining ownership on the foreign government. To "give the liberated countries free scope in dealing with wartime transfers according to their own laws, a simple test was applied: What was the ownership of the property on the effective date of the [U.S.] Freezing Order?"229 General License 95 (December 29, 1945) initiated this certification procedure, and agreements were negotiated with France, Belgium, Norway, and Finland by that date, as well as subsequently with the Netherlands (February 13, 1946), Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg (April 26, 1946), Denmark (June 14, 1946), Greece (October 15, 1946), Switzerland and Liechtenstein (November 20, 1946), Poland (January 7, 1947), Austria (January 16, 1947), and Sweden (March 28, 1947). 230 Once property was certified, it was no longer regarded as blocked. 231
Victims and Certification
Demanding certification from foreign governments relieved the FFC of certain practical problems, such as that it lacked the manpower or appropriate knowledge about local situations abroad to be able to ascertain true ownership. But there were larger political problems as well. Only the country where a blocked national resided exercised the legal and political jurisdiction to conduct the appropriate investigation. While many asset owners would have preferred independent action by U.S. authorities so as to prevent the disclosure of their assets to fiscal authorities in their home countries, the U.S. Treasury Department had no authority to investigate, meaning it was "virtually impossible for the Treasury Department to attempt to ascertain the real ownership of property held by residents of foreign countries."232 A certification program restricted to U.S.-led investigations might have allowed enemy assets to escape detection. The FFC "did not countenance schemes which would have required a sacrifice of our objectives--to discover enemy assets held in the United States in the names of nationals of the liberated countries--in order to assist these foreign nationals to avoid the regulations of their own governments."233
The first law allowing the return of property seized under the Trading With the Enemy Act (TWEA) failed to incorporate all the legislative needs of victims seeking return of their property in the United States. Subsection 32(a), added to the TWEA on March 8, 1946, when Congress amended the First War Powers Act of 1941, allowed the return of property to non-enemy aliens. It specifically prevented individuals from seeking the return of their property under 32 (a)(2) if they had voluntarily resided in, or were citizens of, nations with which the United States had been at war at any time since December 7, 1941. 234 Although the inclusion of terms such as "voluntarily" and "citizenship" seemingly would have granted Jews and other victims the authority to make claims, ambiguities as to the exact status of victim claimants remained.
Congress amended Section 32(a), on August 8, 1946, so that "technical" enemies could regain their property under this Section. The new provisos, added to subsections (c) and (d) by this amendment created an exception for individuals who had been "deprived of life or substantively deprived of liberty pursuant to any law, decree or regulation of such nation discriminating against political, racial, or religious groups." Such individuals were not "deemed to have voluntarily resided in such territory" or to have "enjoyed the full rights of citizenship...of such nation." 235 This amendment gave persecutees the same status as nationals of formerly occupied countries.
Transfer of Responsibility to the OAP
By January 1947, a little over a year after the defrosting process began, it was clear to Treasury that the pace of decontrol was too slow to allow the operations of FFC to end by mid-1947 as planned. Although FFC reckoned that in early 1947 three-quarters of all certifiable assets had been put under license, "substantial amounts" nevertheless remained uncertified.236 French and Swiss certifications, especially, appeared to be lagging. 237 Officials at FFC believed that owners of blocked assets were reluctant to come forward because that property had escaped taxes or exchange restriction. Such assets might also fall under an immediate conversion requirement into domestic currency at a time when exchange rates were unstable. The main reason for holding dollar-denominated assets had been preservation of capital values in real terms. The fact that some assets would remain uncertified because whole families had been exterminated and there simply were no owners or heirs to apply for certification never entered the policy discussion.238
The Departments of Treasury and Justice, in consultation with the Department of State, decided in April 1947 to put all uncertified property under threat of vesting as of a specified date. Officials in these departments believed that this could be accomplished without sacrificing the anonymity of the owners of blocked assets, even though OAP had some doubts that this could be achieved under current legal authority.239 The program finally adopted was embodied in a letter, dated February 2, 1948, from Treasury Secretary Snyder to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Arthur H. Vandenberg. Secretary Snyder stated that information on dollar holdings belonging to nationals of countries receiving aid under the European Recovery Program (ERP)--the Marshall Plan--would be shared with those countries so that they could exert better control over such holdings and, moreover, lessen the burden of ERP on U.S. taxpayers. Furthermore, the plan gave notice that, as a last step, consideration would be given to the vesting of assets that remained blocked on the presumption of enemy interests therein.240
On March 1, 1948, Secretary of Treasury Snyder announced that as of June 1, 1948, Treasury would cease to have jurisdiction over blocked foreign funds. On that date, responsibility for any funds remaining would be transferred to OAP. 241 Attorney General Clark joined Secretary Snyder in urging that those who could avail themselves of the certification procedure do so promptly because the licensing system would cease after June 1. A census, to be taken immediately after that date, would disclose the value and the beneficial ownership of assets still blocked and such disclosure would be shared with the governments of the relevant countries. Assets for which ownership could not be ascertained would be vested, as would those held in Swiss and Liechtenstein accounts. Assets proven to contain no enemy interest would be released whether vested or not.242
The 1948 census of blocked assets revealed that a surprisingly large amount--$956.9 million--still remained uncertified as of June 1948. Assets of individuals from countries benefiting from the ERP accounted for $491.3 million of this sum.
OAP - Divesting and Unblocking
Two years after assuming the frozen asset program, OAP took a census of property still blocked as of October 2, 1950, belonging to nations participating in the ERP. This yielded 6,900 reports covering approximately $140 million worth of assets. By mid-1951, OAP had issued 231 vesting orders covering approximately $7.5 million, on the basis of the program laid out in the February 2, 1948, letter sent by Treasury Secretary Snyder to Senator Vandenberg.243 Victims' heirless assets might have been commingled with these assets.
With the termination of the vesting program in April 1953, OAP also took the final step to end blocked property controls as they applied to Western Europe and Japan. OAP considered that with the Snyder-Vandenberg program virtually completed--only an estimated $15 million remained blocked--final release of the blocked property of these countries was appropriate. This was accomplished on June 27, 1953, by the issuance of General License No. 101 and the revocation of other restrictive rulings. Only some looted securities and property belonging to countries located in the Soviet sphere remained blocked.244
The release of the last $15 million in blocked assets for which no application had been received over the seven years since defrosting had begun raises the question of whether this amount contained victims' property; some of these assets might not have been claimed because the previous owners and their heirs had been murdered.
OAP and Other Victim Assets
In 1953, a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee delving into the activities of the OAP sharply criticized the agency for lack of good business practices in the way it handled its own affairs and the assets under its control. The report particularly singled out the "inefficient and dilatory" manner in which claims were being handled. Of approximately 15,000 title claims, only about 6,000 had been processed. The average length for processing a claim in 1952 was 46.6 months, while the overall average (including other years) was 31.7 months.245
The Commission staff draw a sample of 90 vesting orders, covering 150 claims, drawn from a known set of JRSO claims with the presumption that this set would include a large number of victims' assets. The sample revealed that the average claim indeed took more than three years. These cases represent instances where the JRSO interest conflicted with that of living beneficial owners. The sample helps illuminate how the OAP handled both victims' and non-victims' claims.246
The set of 150 claims analyzed included 35 victim cases.247 These were compared with 35 non-victim cases drawn from the same set and a sample of 35 stateless cases, drawn separately and not analyzed in detail.248 The average time from claim through disposition for all 150 claims was 44 months. Victims' claims on average took somewhat less time than those of non-victims. These nevertheless still lasted more than three years--38 months--as compared with 51 months for non-victims. Claims filed by stateless individuals took an average of 42 months to process. The Commission staff presumed that this included a fairly significant percentage of victim cases. Of the non-victim and stateless cases, more than 40 percent took over four years as compared with over one-third for the victim group. Values of assets returned, after exclusion of a few claims whose worth placed them at the extreme edges of the sample, averaged $1,701 for victim claims and $2,919 for non-victim ones.249
No noticeable relaxation of the rules or procedures facilitated victims' claims. The relative speed with which the OAP concluded these cases likely reflects the fact that the agency did not need to explore a claimant's background once victim status had been proven.
Heirs faced more challenges than named account holders. Many case histories demonstrated that the initial claimant died during the claim process. In those circumstances, OAP conducted further investigations, which delayed cases that might have been at the brink of conclusion. In one case involving patents, a Norwegian filed a notice on January 31, 1944. The claimant died in 1947, leaving seven beneficiaries: two Norwegians, four British residents and one Austrian national. OAP investigated each beneficiary, all of whom were found to have been subject to the Nuremberg laws. Two had been trapped on enemy territory while in the process of emigration while two had been recognized in England for their intelligence service work after the war. It still took until September 1955 to complete the case.
The JRSO and Recovery of Heirless Assets in the United States
The legislation adopted in the United States in August 1946 allowing the release of property to former persecutees did not include consideration of heirless property. By 1949, however, the Senate passed a measure to remedy this shortcoming; in 1954, the Congress approved a law permitting a successor organization to claim heirless assets. In 1955, President Eisenhower appointed the JRSO as this agency. In the next few years, the JRSO submitted thousands of claims. The process extended over many years, because the Office of Alien Property examined these petitions carefully to ensure that the JRSO did not receive title to anything belonging either to a legitimate, living claimant or to an ex-enemy. In the late 1950s, the JRSO negotiated a bulk settlement with the United States government for $500,000, an amount the Congress believed to be the maximum figure the JRSO would have ultimately obtained had it pursued each case. The JRSO received the $500,000 in 1963.
In 1946, Congress amended the Trading with the Enemy Act to allow former persecutees the right to recover vested property, but the Senate Judiciary Committee only proposed legislation addressing the problem of heirless assets in 1949. 250 During the elapsed time, it had become "abundantly and tragically clear" that some of the property eligible for release would never be claimed, because the formers owners and heirs had perished. In order to support the relief and rehabilitation of Holocaust survivors in the United States, a successor organization would be appointed to obtain and distribute heirless property, very roughly estimated at a value between $500,000 and $2,000,000. 251
Several months later the JRSO employed a "group of fairly recent German-Jewish émigrés" to the United States to survey the 14,400 vesting orders issued by the Office of Alien Property "with a view to picking out those names which appeared to be Jewish."252 Executive Secretary of the World Jewish Congress Abraham S. Hyman later admitted that this method did not provide "an infallible guide," but argued that "it does provide a measure of proof which an administrative agency, adjudicating these claims, may, with a minimum of risk, respect." Hyman also noted that when the Congress enacted the National Origin Immigration Law in 1924, it had relied on the surnames of individuals reported in the 1790 census to determine those persons of "colonial stock."253
The German-Jewish émigrés sought to assess the value of unclaimed accounts and determine more precisely the overall worth of heirless Jewish property then in American custody.254 Although 1,200 vesting orders carried "names which were clearly Jewish,"255 this group excluded some individuals for various reasons (low value accounts, the name identified a trustee rather than owner, and so forth).256 Calculations of the remaining orders yielded an estimate of $1.5 million.257
Heirless assets legislation passed the Senate on August 9, 1949. Some opposition to the bill arose from the War Claims Commission. The War Claims Commission, using funds acquired from the liquidation of vested enemy assets, paid Americans for damages suffered at the hands of the enemy during the Second World War.258 Because heirless assets paid to the JRSO would come from the funds available to this agency, its chairman raised objections. Seymour J. Rubin, then foreign affairs counsel to the American Jewish Committee, suggested that "it might be possible to persuade the War Claims Commission to change its views if there were a top limit put on the recovery of heirless property," observing that little work would be necessary to effect that change in the legislation. Rubin "did not expect recovery to go beyond an outside figure of two million dollars."259
Chairman of the War Claims Commission Daniel Cleary accepted the suggestion of Judge Robert Patterson, former Secretary of War, for a $3 million limit to claims provided for in heirless assets legislation.260 Another obstacle rapidly appeared, though. Harold Baynton, Acting Director of the Office of Alien Property, informed Rubin that "he saw no objection to the legislation but that if asked, he would have to say that the Department of Justice wished to examine the costs of administering the legislation if and when it became law." As Rubin pointed out, such an investigation would likely take a significant amount of time and reduce the chances that the legislation would pass. Rubin believed that "this attitude on the part of the Department of Justice is very likely to kill whatever chance [this law] now has for passage."261
It is unknown whether Baynton undertook an examination of the costs. Later that year, the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee added amendments to the legislation approved by the Senate, including a $3 million cap for claims, and subsequently referred it to the entire House in the summer of 1950. That body took no action.262
In 1954 the Senate Judiciary Committee made a fresh attempt. By the committee meeting of July 30, the $3 million figure had become part of the proposed Senate legislation. It remained somewhat unclear to members of this committee, however, how the amount had been ascertained. Senator Everett Dirksen observed that he "could find no tangible evidence with respect to that estimate." The chief of the Claims Section in the Office of Alien Property, Thomas Creighton, believed that it was "purely an arbitrary figure based upon the investigations probably made by the various organizations that are interested in the bill." 263 In contrast, in testimony before the Subcommittee on the Trading with the Enemy Act of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Seymour Rubin stated that, "[t]he $3 million total limitation which is present in Public Law 626 provides a ceiling which was inserted with due regard for financial availabilities presented by the Office of Alien Property in connection with the legislative consideration of that law." 264
On August 23, 1954, Congress passed Public Law 626 amending Section 32 of the Trading with the Enemy Act. This legislation permitted the President to designate one or more organizations as successors in interest to obtain victims' heirless assets. The successor organization had one year to file claims, and it was to receive no more than $3 million. Further, the law required the agency to use the funds for "rehabilitation and settlement of persons in the United States" who had been subject to Nazi persecution, to return property to rightful owners should they appear within two years, to provide detailed reports on how the assets were used, and finally to guarantee that no proceeds from the heirless property paid for the organization's administrative expenses. 265
The JRSO applied immediately for recognition as the successor organization, but President Eisenhower did not appoint it until January 13, 1955. 266 Once again this agency found itself confronted with a rapidly approaching deadline for filing claims; the JRSO nevertheless managed to obtain information swiftly and submitted over 8,000 petitions for property. 267 Much as had been the case in Germany, the JRSO filed some duplicate or otherwise invalid claims. It "had to establish whether an individual claim was [already] filed and, if not, to submit evidence that the former owner had been a Nazi victim." 268
During this period, the JRSO also identified the problems of "omnibus accounts" in the OAP. These were pooled accounts held in the names of Swiss, Dutch, or French banks where the names of the individual depositors were not known. The JRSO logically deduced that there was a "substantial possibility that some portion of these accounts may be the funds of persecutees who were seeking to avoid the foreign exchange restrictions of Germany." 269 The JRSO staff identified 325 vesting orders in this category. Analysis by the Commission staff reveals that in more than half the cases no return orders were issued for the return of the property to claimants. This unreturned amount was then transferred to the War Claims Fund, suggesting that victims' assets may have been used to pay war claims of American citizens.
In some instances, the Office of Alien Property attempted to trace assets and former owners in Europe. At least 200 former owners or heirs were discovered in this manner.270 By 1956, the JRSO pursued only about half of its original claims, 271 and by 1960 it had withdrawn all but 1,800 claims. 272 Moreover, the U.S. government had made no payments by this date "primarily because of the difficulties attendant upon proof of ownership of specific assets." 273 The significant amounts of time and money necessary to pursue these claims led the JRSO to advocate a bulk settlement with the U.S. government.
Already by March 1956, a representative of the successor organization proposed that Congress authorize $865,000 to resolve all of the JRSO petitions. Seymour J. Rubin, Washington counsel for the JRSO, explained that this figure represented the maximum amount that "would appear to be valid claims of the JRSO." 274 In another statement submitted for this hearing, however, Deputy Director of the Office of Alien Property Paul V. Myron argued that only about half that sum might prove to be heirless. Myron dismissed any amendment to the law offering a bulk settlement between $2 and $3 million (something the JRSO had initially proposed) as "wholly unrealistic. The amendment would result in the JRSO's acquisition of assets which were not owned by persecutees of the Nazi government, and thus would be contrary to the intention of Congress in enacting Public Law 626." 275
Although the negotiations remain obscure, the JRSO and Congressional leaders arrived at a compromise sum of $500,000 by 1960. During House proceedings on March 1, 1960, Arkansas Representative Oren Harris explained that this figure emerged from a report filed by the Department of Justice. This agency believed that the total number of valid claims submitted by the JRSO totaled 500, representing a value of approximately $500,000. 276 Representative Peter Mack (Illinois) offered testimony supporting legislation designating this amount while observing that "it is clear that heirless property exists in amounts substantially larger than the amount stated in this bill." Given the burden of proof, however, it was likely that only claims approximating $500,000 would be accepted by the Office of Alien Property. The Bureau of the Budget advocated a limit of $250,000, but Representative Mack and his colleagues on the Subcommittee on Commerce and Finance, which had held hearings on the proposed legislation, recommended the $500,000 figure. 277 The legislation had "the enthusiastic support of all interested organizations," according to Representative Mack. 278
"Enthusiastic" is assuredly too strong a characterization, for the JRSO had hoped since the late 1940s for a much larger sum. Seymour J. Rubin observed in 1959 that the JRSO believed the figure for $500,000 to be "very low." The successor organization only agreed to the proposal "in the knowledge that time is running out for these people whom the Congress has said it wished these funds to benefit." Rubin continued, "There is no point in getting a little more for a former persecutee who is now living on a meager pension than would be available now if the amount which is so obtained is made available after his death." 279 Saul Kagan, Executive Secretary of the JRSO, similarly expressed disappointment with the law. "The settlement of 1962 was take it or leave it," Kagan explained. The JRSO "settled to salvage what was salvageable." 280
The law, eventually passed by Congress on October 22, 1962, authorized the President to pay $500,000 out of the War Claims Fund to a successor organization. The legislation further stipulated that the "acceptance of payment . . . shall constitute a full and complete discharge of all claims" brought by such an organization. 281 By executive order, President Kennedy granted payment of $500,000 to the JRSO on February 26, 1963. 282 The entire sum was then used in the United States for "the rehabilitation and resettlement of persons in need who had suffered the loss of liberty at Nazi hands." The JRSO allocated $350,000 to help establish housing projects in New York City and environs for former victims, while $100,000 established a scholarship fund for the children and grandchildren of victims of the Holocaust in memory of Dr. Nehemiah Robinson and $50,000 went to the Catholic Relief Service-National Catholic Welfare Conference in New York to provide disabled Nazi victims with rehabilitation grants.283
Although it appears as though both the JRSO and the Congress agreed on the settlement amount, the successor organization expressed interest during the 1950s in pursuing many more claims that might have resulted in larger sums. In its annual report for 1955-1956, the JRSO noted that so-called "omnibus claims" could yield further assets. The claims were "collective accounts in the names of various European banks which. . .concealed the identity of the actual owners." Many Jews hid assets in such accounts to protect them from Nazi seizure; the JRSO sought to examine the accounts to determine whether some funds there belonged to murdered, heirless Jews and could be claimed by the JRSO. 284 The extent to which the successor organization pursued these claims, or whether they ever entered into negotiations with the Congress officials remains unclear.
The United States government provided the major impetus for a restitution program unparalleled in history. Although initial proposals to aid Nazi persecutees envisioned only limited compensation for expropriation, the UnitedStates developed measures to ease material suffering and effect the return of stolen property as sensitivity to the plight of victims grew after the war. The United States and its allies apportioned reparation monies for stateless victims, insisted on a strict restitution law in Germany, allowed a successor organization to recover heirless assets, and passed laws releasing to victims, their heirs, or the JRSO the assets that had been frozen or vested during the war.
U.S. officials never explicitly stated where restitution stood among other policy priorities. The goal of rebuilding Germany's governing apparatus soon after war's end clearly took precedence over restitution, however. By encouraging German authorities to regain extensive administrative duties, U.S. officials involved Aryanizers in the restitution process and failed to address an obvious conflict of interest.
The bureaucratic process associated with restitution, and the release of assets to the JRSO in the United States, proved time-consuming. The Office of Alien Property strove to ensure that assets in its possession would be returned to rightful owners or heirs; it did not possess the resources necessary to process cases quickly. Individual claims on average took over three years to process. After realizing how long it would take the OAP to investigate each of its claims for heirless property, the JRSO eventually settled for the lump sum payment of $500,000. 285
In sum, U.S. authorities developed a restitution program through which victims could recover their looted property, but did not fully ensure that this program met its goals. Whether negotiating settlements with Aryanizers, pursuing litigation in Germany, or awaiting judgment from the Office of Alien Property, claimants had to clear many bureaucratic hurdles before they could regain their assets.
Endnotes for Chapter 5
1 That is, the process of transferring property under duress from persecutees to non-persecutees.
2 Several articles of the 1907 Hague Convention prohibit wartime looting. See the relevant passages in Elizabeth Simpson, ed., The Spoils of War. World War II and its Aftermath: The Loss, Reappearance and Recovery of Cultural Property (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997), 278-79.
3 The text of the London Declaration may be found in Monroe Karasik, "Problems of Compensation and Restitution in Germany and Austria," Law and Contemporary Problems 16, 5 (Summer, 1951), 449, n. 1.
4 Mtg. Mins., Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Nov. 30, 1943, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 50, State/Notter, 1 [320617-619].
5 Ibid., 3 [320617-619].
6 Memo from Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Subcomm. 2, "Draft Memo on II B, 1, of Agenda (Reparation 1)," Feb. 5, 1944, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 49, State/Notter, 1 [320630-632].
7 Memo from Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Subcomm. 6, "Recommendations on Restitution," Apr. 10, 1944, 1, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 49, State/Notter, [320633-644].
8 Ibid., 2 [320623-644].
9 Ibid., 4 [320633-644].
10 Ibid., 5 [320633-644].
11 Mtg. Mins., Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Apr. 11, 1944, 3, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 50, State/Notter [320650-652].
12 Mtg. Mins., Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Apr. 14, 1944, 1-3, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 50, State/Notter [320653-659].
13 Memo from Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Subcomm. 6, "Recommendations on Property of Racial or Religious Minorities Seized by the Germans or Otherwise Transferred under Duress," Apr. 10, 1944, 2-3, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 49, State/Notter [320660-662].
14 Memo from Interdivisional Comm. on Rep., Rest., & Prop. Rights, Subcomm. 6, "Recommendations on Compensation for Injuries to Members of German Racial or Religious Minorities," Apr. 22, 1944, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 49, State/Notter [320669-673].
15 Mtg. Mins., ECEFP, June 29, 1944, NACP, RG 353, Entry 190, Box 56, ECEFP Mins. 1/44-20/44 [204346-352].
16 "Summary: Report of Reparation, Restitution, and Property Rights--Germany," NACP, RG 353, Entry 192, Box 45, File 5.19B ECEFP Meetings, 3. Documents 11/44-20/44 [204362-377].
17 See the memo to this effect at NACP, RG 353, Entry 192, Box 45, File 5.19B ECEFP Meeting, 3. Documents 11/44-20/44 .
18 "Summary: Report of Reparation, Restitution, and Property Rights--Germany," NACP, RG 353, Entry 192, Box 45, File 5.19B ECEFP Meetings, 3. Documents 11/44-20/44 .
19 Ibid., 14-15 [204362-377].
20 Constantin Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus 1945-1954 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1992), 57-60.
21 Report of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), 47 (hereafter "Roberts Commission Report"), 148. See also "Art Objects in US Zone [sic]," NACP, RG 330, U.S. Army Command, Box 37, Fine Art [313574-576].
22 Lynn Nicholas, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 408.
23 Nicholas, The Rape of Europa, 409.
24 Memo from HQ, USGCC to ACOS, G-5, USFET, "Restitution Policy and Procedure," Sept. 15, 1945, NACP, RG 338, USFET G-5 Sitreps, Box 1 .
25 Message from JCS to Commanding Gen. Clark, U.S. Forces of Occupation, Austria, & Commanding Gen. McNarney, USFET, Germany, Nov. 29, 1945, NACP, RG 56, Entry 69A4707, Box 84, Germany-Reps., Vol. 2 [215765-768]; From HICOG to the State Dept., July 14, 1950, NACP, RG 59, Lot 53D 307, Box 14, Rep. May-Dec. 1950 .
26 Memo from James F. Byrnes to Certain Am. Diplomatic & Consular Ofcs., "Current Statement of U.S. Restitution Policy," July 17, 1946, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2113/0, Box 1, File XI E. Rest. Policy [204251-253]. Although Finland had never been occupied, it was nevertheless included in this memorandum.
27 See Memo from HQ, USFET, to Commanding Gen., Eastern Mil. Dist., on the release of Latvian materials to Soviet Mil. authorities, Sept. 25, 1945, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 723 .
28 Message from AGWAR to OMGUS, May 2, 1946, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 53, File 400B . The Baltic nations, established as independent countries after the First World War, had been annexed by the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940. This memo only referred to Lithuania and Latvia, but in a memo from 1947, Estonia was also listed as a Baltic state to which restitution was denied. See OMGUS, "Restitution in the Four Zones," Nov. 1947, NACP, RG 56, Entry 69A4707, Box 84, German-Rest. .
29 Established at the Paris Conference on Reparations, the Inter-Allied Reparation Agency allocated German reparations to the eighteen signatory nations. See "Paris Conference on Reparation November 9th--December 21st, 1945, Final Act," no date, 15, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2113T, Box 3, IARA [204193-217].
30 Cable from AGWAR to USFET, Jan. 21, 1947, NACP, RG 260, FED, Box 167 [219720-721]. Currencies not belonging to any of those groups mentioned above were to be held pending further instructions.
31 Memo from OMGUS Econ. Div. to Rest. Control Br., "Restitution of Securities," Oct. 3, 1947, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 14 [311563-564].
32 Memo, "A Short History of External Restitution (Non-Cultural)," Mar. 24, 1949, RG 260, R&R Br., Box 13 .
33 Rept. From Keifer, "CFM REPARATORY PAPER: Restitution from Germany," May 18, 1949, 5, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D-4, Box 26 [106638-651].
34 Memo, "A Short History of External Restitution (Non-Cultural)," Mar. 24, 1949, RG 260, R&R Br., Box 13 .
35 Memo from Am. Embassy, Warsaw to the Secy. of State, Nov. 23, 1948, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 211, File 400B . This memo contains a summary of the protest.
36 Foreign Missions for Restitutions, "Protest on Restitution Program," Oct. 27, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 15 .
37 "A Short History of External Restitution (Non-Cultural)," Mar. 24, 1949, 9, NACP, RG 260, R&R Br., Box 13 . The discussion of the termination of the restitution program provided does not indicate that the military authorities granted any extension of the Dec. 31, 1948, deadline.
38 Message from OMGUS to AGWAR, June 15, 1946, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 283 .
39 Ibid. .
40 OAD, Monthly Rpt., Jan. 1947, 6, NACP, RG 260, Activity Rpts., Box 261, OAD Rpts. .
41 Memo from Office of MG for Hesse, "Materials on Hand, 25 Jan 1949 [sic]," Jan. 28, 1949, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 63 .
42 Cable from AGWAR to OMGUS, Sept. 30, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 130, File 400B [328990-992].
43 Memo from Fin. Div., OMGUS, to FED, OMGUS, Aug. 12, 1947, NACP, RG 260, Recs. of Shipments, Box 435 .
44 Edwin P. Keller, Head, Depository Sec., to Mr. Gabell, "Weekly Progress Report for Week Ending 3 July 1948," July 6, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Entry FED, Box 400 [217754-755].
45 Cable from the Dept. of the Army to OMGUS, Oct. 21, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 130, File 400B .
46 Memo from Albert F. Bender, Jr. to Theodore H. Ball, "Securities Authorized for Release to PCIRO [sic]," Nov. 21, 1947, NACP, RG 260, Fin. Adv., Box 165, International Bank for Reconstruction & Development .
47 Memo, "Status as of August 31, 1948, of Assets held by FED," NACP, RG 260, Fin. Div., Box 93, FED [308118-122].
48 Memo, "Draft of Particulars," no date, NACP, RG 260, Fin. Div., Box 93, FED .
49 Memo from K.A. de Keyserlingk to N. H. Collison, Nov. 23, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 28, Semi-Monthly Rpts. .
50 OMGUS, Prop. Div., "Final Report, MFA&A," Dec. 30, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 712, Final Rpts. . This document does contain numbers of items released from Offenbach (almost three million items, including materials released in Germany), but remains silent on the issue of potential victims' property restituted from the Munich and Wiesbaden Collecting Points.
51 Rpt. of the U.S. High Commissioner, ACA, 4 Q 1948, Vol. 36, 37, 38, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2082, Box 4, Rpts. of U.S. High Commissioner .
52 U.S. Department of State, Preliminary Study on U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II, coordinated by Stuart E. Eizenstat and prepared by William Z. Slany (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, May 1997), 56-57.
53 For this and the following, see "The Final Report of the Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold," Sept. 3, 1998, NACP, RG 59, Entry 5382, Box 4 [201538-546].
54 Dept. of State, Eizenstat/Slany, Preliminary Study, 177.
55 Ibid., 171.
56 Amb. Louis Amigues, "The Closing of the Tripartite Gold Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold," Proceedings of the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998), 64-65.
57 Stuart E. Eizenstat, "Review of Gold issues, Research and Resolution," Proceedings of the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, 62.
58 Memo from Edwin Pauley, "Reparations and Restitution for Stateless Persons," July 18, 1945, NACP, RG 59, European Mission Subj. Files '45-'47, Box 20, Stateless Persons .
59 Ibid., 3 [320972-975].
60 Ibid., 3-4 [320972-975].
61 Letter from Edwin Pauley to Secy. of State James F. Byrnes, Aug. 29, 1945, NACP, RG 59, European Mission Subj. Files '45-'47, Box 20, Stateless Persons .
62 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 64.
63 Ibid., 64-65. Blaustein, however, did not insist on the formation of a wholly Jewish agency to administer assets. Instead, he called for a "United Nations Trusteeship of Indemnification."
64 Dept. of State, Eizenstat/Slany, Preliminary Study, 59.
65 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, notes on 66-67 that the British especially wished that refugees and displaced persons would return to their homelands--thus reducing tensions in Palestine.
66 "Paris Conference on Reparation November 9th - December 21st, 1945 Final Act," no date, 14, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2113T, Box 3, IARA [204193-217].
67 For discussion of the negotiations between the Allies leading up to the implementation agreement, see Dept. of State, Eizenstat/Slany, Preliminary Study, 89-94.
68 Nana Sagi, German Reparations. A History of the Negotiations (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986), 36.
69 AGWAR to OMGUS, Aug. 23, 1946, NACP, RG 260, Dec. File, Box 111, File 602.3 [300851-854].
70 Cable from AGWAR to USFET & USFA, Nov. 16, 1946, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 283 [101129-130].
71 Ibid. [101129-130].
72 Ibid. [101129-130].
73 Telegram from Secy. of State George Marshall, May 8, 1947, NACP, RG 260, Fin. Adv., Box 167 [219690-691].
74 Airgram No. A-142 from Secy. of State G. Marshall to the U.S. Legation to Budapest, July 27, 1948, NACP, RG 84, POLAD-USCOA, Entry 2054, Box 106 [111328-329].
75 Letter from the Temp. Managing Comm. of Central Bureau of Hungarian Jews to A. Schoenfeld, Dec. 20, 1945, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2691, Box 65, File 840.1[103364-365].
76 Letter from the Central Board of Jews in Hungary to the Department of State, July 28, 1947, 3-4, NACP, RG 84, Papers of the U.S. Legation to Budapest, Classified General Records, Box 4 [103312-317].
77 The Hungarian Minister of Finance, Nikolaus Nyaradi, informed U.S. authorities in July 1946 that the Hungarian government and Jewish groups in the country had formed the Jewish Rehabilitation Agency; Nyaradi believed that the "Gold Train" assets should benefit the agency. U.S. officials disagreed. See Telegram No. 43 from Heath, "AGWAR's telegrams WX 93185 of July 2 to USFET and USFA," July 7, 1946, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2691, Box 103, File 840.1 .
78 Letter from Robert S. Folson, U.S. Legation in Budapest, to the Central Bd. of Jews in Hungary, May 19, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2692, Box 4, File 840.1 .
79 "Vast Loot of Nazis Will Be Sold Here," New York Times, May 22, 1948.
80 "Sale of Loot Tops All Expectations," New York Times, June 23, 1948.
85 "Nazi Loot Brings $31,520," New York Times, June 25, 1948.
86 IRO White Paper, June 7, 1949, NACP, RG 59, Lot File 53D307, Box 20, [329015-017].
87 See Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, "The Economic Destruction of Hungarian Jewry," (forthcoming).
88 Memo from Capt. John F. Back to G-2, USFA, "Inventory of 'Werfen Train,'" Sept. 1945, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 113, Box 20, File S4.8007 [119283-284].
89 Letter from Abba P. Schwartz, PCIRO Rep. Dir., to Col. William G. Brey, FED Chief, "Contemplated Transfer of Additional Non-Monetary Gold to PCIRO under JCS Non-Monetary Gold Directive," July 27, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Fin. Adv., Box 162, FED-IRO .
90 Note with Attachment from George Wenzel, IRO Reparations Officer, to FED, [circa Oct., 1948], NACP, RG 260, FED, Box 421, File 900.154 [328997-9003].
91 Internal Route Slip with Proposed Cable from Col. William G. Brey to OMGUS, Fin. Div., July 23, 1947, NACP, RG 260, FED, Box 424, File 940.38 [329007-009].
92 Letter from Theodore H. Ball to P. Lercy-Beaulieu, Oct. 14, 1947, NACP, RG 260, FED, Box 167 [219695-696]. The actual delivery was made on September 5, 1947. See the letter from W. Hallam Tuck to Rear Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, Sept. 15, 1947, NACP, RG 59, Lot 53D307, Box 19, IRO Preparatory Comm. (June-Sept. 1947) .
93 Memo from FED, "Status as at C/B December 15, 1950," RG 260, FED, Box 400 .
94 MG Law 59, 1, found in Military Government Gazette, Germany, United States Area of Control, Issue G, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, German External Assets, Box 167, OMGUS--Contacts With [106777-819].
95 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 91-95.
96 The first meeting to discuss restitution proposals took place on April 24, 1946. See Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 103. For the recommendations of the Property Disposition Board, see its report from Mar. 26, 1946 at NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 81 [100109-133].
97 See Clay, Decision in Germany, 84-103, for an examination of this political philosophy.
98 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 103-04.
99 Ibid., 105.
100 Of particular importance in maintaining direct contact with officials in Washington as well as OMGUS was a collective of five American-based Jewish organizations, the WJC, the AJDC, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Conference. See Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 107.
101 Ibid., 108. Goschler explains that disagreement existed even within OMGUS concerning this date. Members of the Finance Division and the Property Control Br. sided with German opinion that November 9, 1938--the Kristallnacht--should be regarded as the date after which Jewish persecution began in earnest. The Legal Division, however, sided with Jewish representatives.
102 Nehemiah Robinson, "Draft of an Indemnification Law for Germany," July 25, 1946, NACP, RG 260, R&R Br., Box 713 .
103 The Jewish Community of Berlin protested to OMGUS against a draft it had seen from August 1946, in part because "the enactment of this law is especially put into the hands of exclusively German authorities" with no "participation of Jewish authorities" in the restitution procedure. See the letter from the Juedische Gemeinde zu Berlin to OMGUS, Prop. Control Br., Sept. 16, 1946, NACP, RG 260, R&R Br., Box 713 [303392-394]; Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 108.
104 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 108-111. Already by October, Washington officials had informed OMGUS that it believed "that in loss of Jewish property successor organizations should be designated or approved by [the Military Government] and that appearance of designation by [German Authorities] will meet strong objection." See the cable from AGWAR to OMGUS, Oct. 14, 1946, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531, Box 53, Rest.- Gen. .
105 CINCEUR Berlin to War Dept., Apr. 8, 1947, NACP, RG 56, Entry 69A4707, Box 84, Rest. . For a further discussion of German opposition to the restitution law, see Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 112-113.
106 Cable from CINCEUR Berlin to War Dept., Apr. 8, 1947, NACP, RG 56, Entry 69A4707, Box 84, Rest. .
107 Cable from AGWAR to EUCOM, July 9, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 130, File 400B .
108 Cable from OMGUS to AGWAR, Sept. 13, 1947, NACP, RG 56, Entry 69A4707, Box 84, Rest. [220628-630].
109 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 119.
110 Memo from Irwin S. Mason, Adv. on Internal Rest., to Gen. Lucius Clay, Feb. 7, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Dec. File, Box 510 . In this memo, Mason quotes from a cable dated July 30, 1947, in which Gen. Clay explained the British position to AGWAR.
111 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 120-21.
112 Cable from CINCEUR to Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Oct. 29, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2531B, Box 130, File 400B Rest. Gen. [320955-957].
113 Ibid., 1 [320955-958].
114 Circular Airgram to All Am. Diplomatic Ofcrs., Nov. 25, 1947, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2108, Box 113, File 7116 [320931-932].
115 MG Law 59, 16, found in "Military Government Gazette, Germany, US Area of Control," Issue G, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 108, Box 167, OMGUS--Contacts with [106777-819]. According to Regulation No. 5 of Law 59, issued on Jan. 5, 1949, initial petitions would be considered valid so long as they were postmarked by Dec. 31, 1948, and were received by the Central Filing Agency by Mar. 31, 1949. See Office of MG for Bavaria, Monthly Rpt., Feb. 4, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4 [303039-040].
116 US Courts of the Allied High Commission for Germany, Court of Restitution Appeals, Vol. I, 1950, 490 . This document cites an Order of the Military Governor, Subject: Petition by Public Prosecutor, Feb. 28, 1949.
117 MG Law 59, 1, found in "Military Government Gazette, Germany, US Area of Control," Issue G, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 108, Box 167, OMGUS--Contacts with [106777-819].
118 Press Release, OMGUS, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 67 .
119 MG Law 59, 2, found in "Military Government Gazette, Germany, US Area of Control," Issue G, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 108, Box 167, OMGUS--Contacts with [106777-819].
120 Ibid., 9 [106777-819].
121 Ibid., 20 [106777-819].
122 Ibid., 16 [106777-819].
123 W.J. Dickmann, Deputy Chief, Prop. Control & External Assets Br., "Report on the Administration of Military Government Law No. 59, 'Restitution of Identifiable Property' for the 10 Months Period Beginning 10 November 1947 until 30 August 1948," no date, 4, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 4, File 17 [308401-411].
124 MG Law 59, 17-19, found in "Military Government Gazette, Germany, US Area of Control," Issue G, Nov. 10, 1947, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 108, Box 167, OMGUS--Contacts with [106777-819]. Claimants could also skip the intermediary appeals court and place a case before the Board of Review. See J.H. Lennon, Land Prop. Control Chief, "Minutes of Meeting Held in OMGB, Munich, on 18 March 1949 Regarding Law No. 59," Apr. 15, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 .
125 Karasik, "Problems of Compensation and Restitution in Germany and Austria," 456.
126 Composition of this organization included international components. The thirteen groups represented were the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the AJDC, the American Jewish Committee, the WJC, the Agudat Israel World Organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Central British Fund, the Council for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Jews from Germany, the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Germany, the Conseil Représentatif des Juifs de France, the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc., the Anglo-Jewish Association, and the Interessenvertretung israelitischer Kultusgemeinden in the U.S. Zone in Germany. This list is provided in Sagi, German Reparations. A History of the Negotiations, 41.
127 See Nehemiah Robinson, Indemnification and Reparations, Jewish
York: Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress, 1944).
128 Sagi, German Reparations. A History of the Negotiations, 23-25.
129 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 47.
130 See the following chapter on this Commission and its successor, the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.
131 See Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 111, for Clay's meeting with committee delegates under the leadership of Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, and the letter describing the General's meeting with Commission representatives from Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, Advisor on Jewish Affairs to the Commander in Chief, European Command to Dr. Salo W. Baron, NACP, RG 260, Ardelia Hall Collection, Box 129 .
132 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 172. A full list of JRSO members is provided above.
133 Ibid., 173.
134 Cert. of Inc. of the Jewish Rest. Commission, May 15, 1947, AJA, WJC Papers, Box C289 [115847-880].
135 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 173.
136 MG--Germany, U.S. Area of Control, Reg. No. 3 Under MG Law No. 59 & Appointment Thereunder; Designation of Successor Orgs. Pursuant to MG Law No. 59 & Appointment of a Successor Org. to Claim Jewish Prop., June 23, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Dec. File, Box 510 [315639-641].
137 PCHA Interview with Benjamin B. Ferencz, Washington, DC, Oct. 5, 2000 [124721-724].
138 Memo from Lt. Col. G.H. Garde, Adjutant Gen., to the Dir., JRSO, "JRSO Authorization No. 1," Aug. 18, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Dec. File, Box 510 [315659-663].
139 PCHA Interview with Benjamin B. Ferencz, Washington, DC, Oct. 5, 2000 [124721-724].
140 Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, After Five Years: A Report of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization on the Restitution of Identifiable Property in the U.S. Zone of Germany (Nuremberg: JRSO, 1953), 4.
141 PCHA Interview with Benjamin B. Ferencz, Washington, DC, Oct. 5, 2000 [124721-724].
142 JRSO, After Five Years, 4-5.
143 PCHA Interview with Benjamin B. Ferencz, Washington, DC, Oct. 5, 2000 [124721-724].
144 Memo from the JRSO to the United Service for New Americans, June 23, 1954, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 6, File 257.1 (JRSO) [124425-426].
145 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 175-176.
146 JRSO, After Five Years, 6.
147 JRSO, After Five Years, 6-7. Dates for these agreements are provided in Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 176-180.
148 "Jews' Claims Cut to Aid Restitution," New York Times, Feb. 13, 1951. See the clipping in USHMM, Ferencz Papers, 12.008, Correspondence and Related Records Regarding the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO), Box 1, Folder 10 ("Clippings: JRSO and Reparations, Early 1950s").
149 Saul Kagan & Ernest H. Weisman, Report on the Operations of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization 1947-1972 (New York: JRSO, ), 30.
150 See the Corresp. between Benjamin Ferencz, Dir. Gen. of the JRSO, & Eli Rock, Am. Jewish Joint Distribution Comm., June 10 & June 14, 1949, Stanford Univ., Salo Baron Papers, Box 234, Files 2-3 [326603-606].
151 JRSO, After Five Years, 9-10.
152 Memo from JRSO, "Criteria for Equitable Determination of Claims by Persons Who Lost their Legal Rights by Failing to File their Petitions for Restitution Within the Time Limit Prescribed by U.S. Military Government Law No. 59," Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, File JRSO, NY, 906 [343030-031].
153 Letter from Thea Cerf to unknown recipient, May 16, 1949, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 11, Gen. Recs. of the Dir. '44-'50 .
154 Kagan & Weisman, Report on the Operations of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, 29.
155 "Monthly Report on Analysis of Court Decisions," HICOG, Internal Rest. Supervision Br., Nov. 22, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Prop. Office, Recs. Relating to Rest. of Prop. under MG Law 59, Box 3, Court Decisions File .
156 Hans-Joachim Braun, The German Economy in the Twentieth Century (New York: Routledge, 1990), 154-55.
157 "Monthly Report on Analysis of Court Decisions," HICOG, Internal Rest. Supervision Br., Nov. 22, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Prop. Office, Recs. Relating to Rest. of Prop. under MG Law 59, Box 3, Court Decisions File .
158 Memo from Ministry of Justice, Württemberg-Baden to Internal Rest. Supervision Br., Nov. 9, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 5 .
159 OMGUS, "Property Control in the U.S.-Occupied Area of Germany 1945-1949. Special Report of the Military Governor," July 1949, 1, Stanford Univ. Hoover Lib., Govt. Docs.--Germany [106833-870].
160 Ibid., 14 [106833-870].
161 Ibid., 10 [106833-870].
162 Ibid., 1 & 10 [106833-870].
163 Ibid., 10 [106833-870].
164 Ibid., 11-12 [106833-870].
165 Office of MG for Bavaria, Prop. Div., Monthly Rpt., Jan. 5, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 .
166 Office of MG for Bavaria, Prop. Control & External Assets Br., Dist.Unterfranken, "Information Concerning Dr. Sebastian Endres," Oct. 28, 1948, NACP RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 17, Gen. Recs. 1944-50, Endres File [327497-500].
167 See letter from William G. Daniels, Chief, Prop. Div., Apr. 23, 1951, NACP, RG 466, USHCG, Class. Gen. Recs., 1949-52, Box 9, File Endres .
168 Memo from Werner M. Loewenthal, Chief, Field Operations to John A. Porter, Chief, Claims Sec., "Problems Concerning the Political Reliability of Restitution Personnel," Jan. 3, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 [327104-105].
169 Monthly Rpt., Office of MG for Bavaria, Prop. Div., Jan. 5, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 [327101-102].
170 Memo from Werner Loewenthal, Internal Rest. Supervision Br. to Mr. Miller, Prop. Div., "Conditions Impeding Restitution Progress," Dec. 1, 1949, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 9, Law 59 .
171 Monthly Rpt., Office of MG for Bavaria, Prop. Div., Feb. 4, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 . For a recent volume on denazification, see Wilfried Loth and Bernd A. Rusinek, eds., Verwandlungspolitik: NS-Eliten in der westdeutschland Nachkriegsgesellschaft (New York: Campus, 1998).
172 Memo from the Rest. Sec., Ministry of Justice, Württemberg-Baden to Mr. Yager, Internal Rest. Supervision Br., "Restitution Procedure under Law No. 59," Nov. 9, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 5, File 254.3 .
173 Maj. Abraham S. Hyman, Acting Adv. on Jewish Affairs to U.S. Commands in Germany & Austria, "Final Report," Jan. 30, 1950, 6, Hoover Inst., Grossman Collection, Box 49, Jews in Germany .
174 Memo from Werner Loewenthal, Internal Rest. Supervision Br. to Mr. Miller, Prop. Div., "Conditions Impeding Restitution Progress," Dec. 1, 1949, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 9, Law 59 .
175 Maj. Abraham S. Hyman, Acting Adv. on Jewish Affairs to U.S. Commands in Germany & Austria, "Final Report," Jan. 30, 1950, 6, Hoover Inst., Grossman Collection, Box 49, Jews in Germany .
176 Memo from OMGUS to the Directors of the OMG for Bavaria, Hesse, Württemberg-Baden, & Bremen, Jan. 12, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 1, File 213 AG Letters [124308-309].
177 OMGUS, Prop. Div., "Report of Field Trip by Mr. Hartzsch and Mr. Porter to the Various Laender in the U.S. Zone," Feb. 8, 1949, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 11 [313442 of 313441-458].
178 Ibid. [313450 of 313441-458].
179 Ibid. [313452 of 313441-458].
180 Ibid. [313455 of 313441-458].
181 OMG for Bavaria, Prop. Div., "Minutes of Meeting Held in OMGB, Munich, on 18 March 1949 Regarding Law No. 59," Apr. 15, 1949, NACP, RG 466, Entry 160A, Box 4, File 254.1 .
182 USHCG, Office of Econ. Affairs, Prop. Div., Internal Rest. Supervision Br., "Conference held at Bad Nauheim on December 14, 1949," Jan. 31, 1950, 2-3, NACP, RG 260, Box 10, File 44 [308387-400].
183 Ibid. 9 .
184 USHCG, Press Release, Oct. 27, 1950, Stanford University, Salo Baron Papers, Box 44, Folder 2 ; also see USHCG, Press Release, Oct. 27, 1950, NACP, RG 466, McCloy Papers, Box 22, File D (50) 2636-2679 .
185 Ibid. .
186 Goschler, Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten der Nationalsozialismus, 181.
187 Memo from W.J. Dickmann, Deputy Chief, OMGUS Prop. Div., to Phillips Hawkins, June 8, 1948, NACP, RG 260, Box 10, File 57 .
188 USHCG, "Conference held at Bad Nauheim on December 14, 1949," Jan. 31, 1950, 10-11, NACP, RG 260, Prop. Div., Box 10, File 44 [308387-400].
189 Walter Schwarz, Rueckerstattung nach den Gesetzen der Allierten Maechte (Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1974), 392.
190 A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941-1949 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1950).
192 Control Agreement for Austria, Article V, Para. III, cited in the History of R&R Br., External Restitution, no date, NACP, RG 260, Entry 103, Box 167, History of R&R Br. .
193 The Rehabilitation of Austria, 1945-47, no date, NACP, RG 407, Entry 368b, Box 1451, Rehabilitation of Austria .
195 History of R&R Br., External Rest., no date, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 103, Box 167, History of R&R Br. .
196 Ibid. .
197 HQ, USFA, USACA Sec., Summary Rpt. on Claims & Rest. as of 31 Dec. 1948, no date, NACP, RG 407, Entry 368B, Box 1432, Reps. & Rest.-Austria .
198 Final Rpt. of U.S. High Commissioner for Austria, Vol. 1, Oct. 1, 1950, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Files of the Dir. 1946-51, Box 23, Dec. Files 1945-51 . American authorities dropped claims, for instance, when the property could not be located within the U.S. Zone, or when a claim duplicated another petition. See the History of R&R Br., External Rest., no date, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Entry 103, Box 167, History of R&R Br. [320076-077].
199 Final Rpt. of the U.S. High Commissioner for Austria, Vol. 1, Oct. 1, 1950, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Files of the Dir. 1946-51, Box 23, Dec. Files 1945-51 .
200 Rpt. of the U.S. High Commissioner for Austria, Vol. 45, 46, 47, 3 Q 1949, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2082, Box 5 .
201 "Introduction to First Phase of Property Control History," no date, NACP, RG 260, Entry 119, Box 2 . Property Control evidently prepared a general information letter along with other claimant forms for distribution in the United States.
202 Austrian Information, Jan. 3, 1953, NACP, RG 59, Lot 62D4, Box 18, Austria Rest. Policies .
203 "A Review of Austria," Am. Legation, Vienna, Sept. 1, 1947, NACP, RG 260, USACA, Files of the Dir. 1946-51, Box 16, File Dec. Files 1945-51 .
204 Resume of the Austrian Internal Rest. Problem, Jan. 1, 1954, NACP, RG 84, Entry 2057, Box 6 [113626-633].
205 Dept. of State, "Multilateral Austrian State Treaty," United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Vol. 6, Part 2, 1955, 2435-2436 [320418-419].
206 Cited in Amending the TWEA, rpt. (No. 784) to accompany S. 603, Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 81st Congress, 1st Session, July 25, 1949, 1 [332740-743].
207 Ibid., 1-2 [332740-743].
208 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 1 [331331-775].
209 Ibid., Ch. 6, 1 [331331-775].
210 Speech to be delivered by Orvis Schmidt, "Lifting Foreign Funds Control," at 31st National For. Trade Convention, NY, Oct. 9, 1944, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 95, Defrosting [200366-376].
211 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 1 [331331-775].
212 Ibid. [200366-376]; also cited in Rudolf Littauer, "The Unfreezing of Foreign Funds," Columbia Law Review 45 (1945): 134.
213 Speech to be delivered by Orvis Schmidt, "Lifting Foreign Funds Control," at 31st National For. Trade Convention, NY, Oct. 9, 1944, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 95, Defrosting [200366-376].
214 Littauer, "The Unfreezing of Foreign Funds," 146.
215 Isadore Alk & Irving Moskowitz, "Removal of United States Controls over Foreign-owned Property," Federal Bar Journal 10 (1948), 10.
216 Littauer, "The Unfreezing of Foreign Funds," 147, paraphrasing Orvis Schmidt's Oct. 9, 1944 speech.
217 Speech to be delivered by Orvis Schmidt, "Lifting Foreign Funds Control," at 31st National For. Trade Convention, NY, Oct. 9, 1944, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 95, Defrosting [200366-376].
218 Alk & Moskowitz, "Removal of United States Controls over Foreign-owned Property," 5; Memo for the Files, Jul 13, 1944, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 95 [310700-701].
219 Littauer, "The Unfreezing of Foreign Funds," 156.
220 Alk & Moskowitz, "Removal of United States Controls over Foreign-owned Property," 5-6.
221 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 2-3 [331331-774].
222 Alk & Moskowitz, "Removal of United
States Controls over Foreign-owned
223 Treas. Dept. Annual Report, 1945, 107.
224 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 12 [331331-775].
225 Press Release accompanying Gen. Ruling 94, reprinted in Docs Pertaining to FFC, Sept. 1946, 82.
226 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 13 & 16 [331331-775].
227 Press Release accompanying Gen. Ruling 94, reprinted in Docs Pertaining to FFC, Sept. 1946, 82.
228 Alk & Moskowitz, "Removal of United States Controls over Foreign-owned Property," 8; "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 14 [331331-775].
229 Alk & Moskowitz, "Removal of United States Controls over Foreign-owned Property," 18.
230 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 24 [331331-775].
231 Press Release accompanying Gen. Ruling 94, reprinted in Docs Pertaining to FFC, Sept. 1946, 83.
232 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 31 [331331-775]. This formulation is repeated verbatim in testimony given to Congress in 1947 by John Richards, then Director of FFC. Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for 1948, House of Representatives, Eightieth Congress, 1st Session , June 2, 1947, 184.
233 "History of FFC," Ch. 6, 31 [331331-775].
234 P.L. No. 322, 60 Stat. 50., hearings on the legislation, H.R. 3750 Return of Vested Property to Persons not Hostile to the United States, September 12, 1945, Senate report No. 920, 79th Congress, 2nd Session, 11.
235 P.L. No. 79-671, c. 878, Sec. 2, 60 Stat. 925, 930.
236 Memo from John S. Richards, Dir., FFC, to A.N. Overby, "Resolution of Problem of Uncertified Accounts," Jan. 16, 1947, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 457, Switz. Defrosting, Vol. II [349188-194]; U.S. Treasury Dept., Annual Report, 1947, 53-54.
237 In testimony on FFC appropriations Deputy Director Richards noted that the French Government sent periodic reports and on May 2, 1947 reported that they had certified $193 million out of total of French assets of $1 billion; these assets were then unblocked. Switzerland had certified $130 million out of $1.2 billion in April 1947. Supplemental Appropriations Bill for 1948, 80th Congress, 1st Sess., Hearings, 1947, p.189.
238 Memo from John S. Richards, Dir., FFC, to A.N. Overby, "Resolution of Problem of Uncertified Accounts," Jan. 16, 1947, NACP, RG 131, FFC, Box 457, Switz. Defrosting, Vol. II [349188-194]. This memo mentioned the census option as one means of determining the size of the heirless assets issue.
239 Memo for the Files: Uncertified Accounts, Apr. 2, 1947, NACP, RG 131, FFC Corresp. 1942-60, Box 459, Switz. Defrosting [314437-438]. OAP vesting authority required public notice being given of any intent to vest.
240 OAP, Annual Report, Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1949, Dept. of Justice, 1949, [323618-689].
241 The actual transfer was made effective midnight Sept. 30, 1948 by Executive Order No. 9989 and the licensing system remained in effect, under OAP purview, up to Jan. 1, 1949, OAP, Annual Report, Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1949, Dept. of Justice, 1949 [323618-689].
242 Treasury release as reprinted in an official notification by the Netherlands Bank, which urged, in comment, immediate application for certification of still uncertified blocked accounts; Archives of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, code 3, Deel III, 47-49, [326939-940].
243 OAP, Annual Report, Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1951, Dept. of Justice, 1951 [323764-860].
244 OAP, Annual Report, Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1953, Dept. of Justice, 1953 [323936-4098].
245 "Senators Attack Alien Claim Job," The New York Times, Feb. 1, 1953 .
246 The designation "victim," "non-victim," and "stateless" describes the original owner, rather than the beneficiary.
247 Persecutees would claim their status as such in their correspondence with OAP.
248 The OAP specifically identified such claims as involving "stateless" individuals in their records.
249 Neither the number of victims' claims nor the total amounts of assets they recovered can be ascertained without two systematic investigations that fell beyond the capacities of the PCHA. First, it would be necessary to examine the petitions lodged with foreign national governments as part of the certification process necessary before "frozen" assets could be "thawed" (see explanation below). These petitions, if still extant, would be located in foreign repositories. Second, the individual claims lodged with the Office of Alien Property--amounting to 67,025--need careful review to identify those filed by victims. Whereas such a thorough investigation has not been undertaken, PCHA researchers did sample 150 cases to obtain estimates of the length of time necessary to process a claim fully (38 months) and the average amount returned to victims ($1,701). Greater specificity is currently impossible.
250 The American Jewish Committee employed Judge Robert Patterson, ex-Secretary of War, to work "on and for this bill" already by 1948. Seymour J. Rubin, "Report to Executive Committee of Jewish Restitution Successor Organization re: Heirless Assets in the United States," Sept. 1955, 1, YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee (Gen-10), Box 295, File 9 [345138-145].
251 Amending the TWEA, rpt. (No. 784) to accompany S. 603, Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 81st Congress, 1st Session, July 25, 1949 [332740-743].
252 "Survey of OAP Vesting Orders to Obtain Estimate of Heirless Jewish Accounts," Mar. 6., 1950, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, TWEA-916a [336611-613].
253 Letter from Abraham S. Hyman, Exec. Secy. of the WJC, to Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, May 9, 1956, AJA, WJC Papers, Box H342, U.S. 1954-57 .
254 "Survey of OAP Vesting Orders to Obtain Estimate of Heirless Jewish Accounts," Mar. 6., 1950, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, TWEA-916a [336611-613].
255 Ibid. [336611-613].
256 Ibid., 2 .
257 Ibid., 3 . A subsequent memorandum recalculated the figures, concluding that the total amount of Jewish heirless assets held at OAP neared $2 million. See letter from David L. Glickman to Dr. Eugene Hevesi, May 5, 1950, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, TWEA-916a [336614-619].
258 Memo from Am. Jewish Committee, "Heirless Property Legislation in the United States," Jan. 24, 1950, YIVO, 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee (Gen-10), Box 296, File 7 ; P.L. 826, The War Claims Act of 1948, July 3, 1948, 62 Stat. 1246-1247.
259 Letter from Seymour J. Rubin to Dr. Eugene Hevesi, Am. Jewish Committee, Feb. 1, 1950, YIVO, 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee (Gen-10), Box 296, File 3 .
260 Amendments to War Claims Act of 1948, Hearings before a Sub-Committee of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives 81st Congress, 2nd Session, 168-69.
261 Letter from Seymour J. Rubin to Judge Robert P. Patterson, Mar. 22, 1950, YIVO, 347.17, Am. Jwsh. Cmtee. (Gen-10), Box 296, File 3 [345264-265].
262 Amending Section 32 of the TWEA, as Amended, with Reference to the Designation of Organizations as Successors in Interest to Deceased Persons, Rpt. (no. 600) to accompany S. 1748, Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 82nd Congress, 1st Session, July 30, 1954 [332732-733].
263 Heirless Prop. (S. 2420), Hearing before a Subcomm. on the Judiciary, Apr. 14, 1954, U.S. Senate, 83rd Congress, 2nd Session .
264 Seymour Rubin, typescript of "Statement Before the Subcomm. on the Trading with the Enemy Act of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary," no date [fall 1955], YIVO 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee (Gen-10), Box 295, File 12 .
265 P.L. 626, An Act to Amend Section 32 of the TWEA, as Amended, Aug. 23, 1954, 68 Stat. 767-768 [332703-704].
266 3 CFR, 235-236 (1954-1958 Compilation), Exec. Order 10587, Administration of Section 32 (h) of the TWEA, Jan. 13, 1955 [332706-707].
267 Seymour Rubin, Washington Counsel of the JRSO, "Report to the Executive Committee of the JRSO Re: Heirless Assets in the United States," Sept. 1955, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem .
268 Saul Kagan & Ernest Weismann, Report on the Operations of The Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (New York: The JRSO, circa 1972), 33.
269 Seymour Rubin, "Report to Executive Committee of Jewish Restitution Successor Organization Re: Heirless Assets in the United States," Sept. 1955, attached to a memo from Saul Kagan, Oct. 5, 1955, YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jew. Committee (Gen 10), Box 295, File 6 .
270 JRSO, Annual Report, Nov. 1, 1955-Oct. 31, 1956, Stanford Univ., Special Collections, Papers of Salo W. Baron, Box 44, File 2 .
271 Letter from Paul V. Myron, Deputy Director, OAP, to Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, Mar. 27, 1956, appearing in Return of Confiscated Prop., Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 84th Congress, 1st and 2nd Sessions, Apr. 20, 1956 .
272 Letter from Lawrence E. Walsh, Deputy Attorney Gen., to Rep.Oren Harris, Aug. 26, 1959, appearing in Settlement of Claims of Successor Organizations for Return of Vested Heirless Prop., Rpt. (no. 1233) to Accompany H.R. 6462, House of Representatives, 86th Congress, 2nd Session, Feb. 1, 1960 .
273 Settlement of Claims of Successor Organizations for Return of Vested Heirless Prop., Rpt. (no. 1233) to Accompany H.R. 6462, House of Representatives, 86th Congress, 2nd Session, Feb. 1, 1960 .
274 Statement of Seymour J. Rubin, appearing in Return of Confiscated Prop., Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 84th Congress, 1st and 2nd Sessions, Apr. 20, 1956 .
275 Letter from Paul V. Myron, Deputy Dir., OAP, to Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, Mar. 27, 1956, appearing in Return of Confiscated Prop., Hearings before a Subcomm. of the Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 84th Congress, 1st & 2nd Sessions, Apr. 20, 1956 .
276 Settlement of Claims of Successor Organizations for Return of Vested Heirless Property, Congressional Record, Mar. 1, 1960, 4043 [332723-731].
277 Ibid., 4045 [332723-731].
278 Ibid., 4045 [332723-731].
279 Statement of Seymour J. Rubin, July 25, 1959, AJA, WJC Papers, Box H 343, TWEA-1958-59 [341648-649].
280 PCHA Interview with Saul Kagan, New York City, Aug. 15, 2000.
281 P.L. 87-846, An Act to Amend the War Claims Act of 1948, to Provide Compensation for Certain World War II Losses, Oct. 22, 1962, 76 Stat. 1114-1115 [332794-795].
282 3 CFR, 721-722 (1959-1963 Compilation), Exec. Order 11086, Amendment of Exec. Order 10587, Relating to the Administration of Sec. 32 (h) of TWEA, Feb. 26, 1963 [332801-802].
283 Kagan & Weismann, Report on the Operations of The Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, 33-34.
284 JRSO, Annual Report, Nov. 1, 1955-Oct. 31, 1956, Stanford Univ., Special Collections, Papers of Salo W. Baron, Box 44, Folder 2 .
285 Estimates of the value of heirless assets held by the OAP differed widely. In 1950, Seymour Rubin thought that the War Claims Commission could be prevailed upon to accept a $5 million ceiling. Former Secretary of War Robert Patterson suggested that the ceiling be $3 million and legislation authorizing that ceiling was passed in 1954. However, adjudication of JRSO claims was never finalized. In 1956, Paul Myron, Deputy Director of the OAP, wrote to Senator Everett Dirksen that he thought the value was likely to be half of the $865,000 heirless assets returnable to the JRSO, about $435,000. In April 1956, Seymour Rubin proposed that Congress authorize $865,000 as a lump sum settlement to resolve all JRSO claims. In July 1956, Congressman Arthur Klein suggested $750,000 be given to the successor organization. It appears that the longer the legislative effort dragged on, the more likely the JRSO was willing to reduce the size of its estimate of the value of heirless assets. See Letter from Seymour J. Rubin to Dr. Eugene Hevesi, Feb. 1, 1950, YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee, (Gen-10), Box 296, File 3 ; Amendments to the War Claim Act of 1948 and the Trading with the Enemy Act (S.603), Hearings before a Subcomm. of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, May 5, 1950, 168-69; Return of Confiscated Prop. (S2227), Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 84th Congress, 1st and 2nd Sessions, Apr. 20, 1956 [332786-787]; Letter from Paul V. Myron, Deputy Director, OAP to Congressman Arthur G. Klein, Aug.10, 1956, YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jew. Committee (Gen-10), Box 295, File 11 ; Letter from Congressman Arthur G. Klein to Dallas S. Townsend, Dir., OAP, no date [July 11, 1956], YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jewish Committee (Gen-10), Box 295, File 11 ; Memo from Seymour J. Rubin to Nathaniel Goldstein, "Proposed Bulk Settlement Legislation," Mar. 28, 1956, YIVO, RG 347.17, Am. Jew. Committee (Gen-10), Box 295, File 11 [345172-174].
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