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 Holocaust 02

PLUNDER AND RESTITUTION:
Findings and Recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and Staff Report

DECEMBER 2000

Courtesy National Archives, photo nos. 111-SC-209154



Table of Contents:

Transmittal Letter

Commission Members

Introduction

The Creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust
Assets in the United States

The Commission's Work

The Historical Context

Overview of the Commission's Findings

Findings

Implementation of Restitution Policy in Europe

Victims' assets were restituted to countries and organizations, not individuals

Currencies were returned to the government of issue

Victims' assets were turned over to humanitarian organizations

German officials were entrusted with restitution responsibilities

Strict deadlines created a narrow window for claims and some victims' assets were therefore transferred to Germany and Austria

Austrian officials were entrusted with restitution responsibilities

Political considerations impeded the restitution process

Problems at central collecting points and government warehouses impeded identification of victims' assets

Implementation of Restitution Policy in the United States

Claims procedures for restitution were flawed

The Alien Property Custodian prolonged adjudications

Victims' assets may have been used to pay U.S. war claims

Restitution efforts of recipient countries were not monitored

Duty was assessed on victims' assets

The $500,000 lump sum settlement of Office of Alien Property claims was inadequate

Agreements Negotiated by the Commission in the Public and Private Sectors

The Library of Congress has agreed to recognize the provenance of certain books in its collection that had been looted by the Nazis

The National Gallery of Art has agreed to return a painting to its rightful owners

The Commission has identified dormant bank accounts and other unclaimed property of Holocaust victims in the United States, and significant members of the banking industry have agreed to endorse suggested best practices for the investigation of bank records regarding such accounts

The museum community has agreed to full disclosure of Holocaust-era works and their provenance

The Context of the Commission's Recommendations

Recommendations

Acknowledgments

Appendices

A. Public Law 105-186, 105th Congress

B. Activities of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States

C. Staff Contributing to Commission's Work

D. Commissions of Inquiry into Holocaust Issues

E. Letters of Agreement


Staff Report

Executive Summary

Chapter I: The History of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and its Report

Creation of the Presidential Commission and Its Purpose

Scope of the Report

Estimate of Assets in U.S. Possession or Control

Non-gold Financial Assets

Gold and Non-gold Financial Assets in Europe

Art and Cultural Property

Organization of the Report

Chapter II: From Nazi Expropriation to U.S. Control

Introduction

Nazi Victimization

"The Science of Race"

Discrimination and Plunder Become the Law

Devices of Extermination

United States Engagement

Overcoming Isolationism

The Grand Alliance

Occupation and Stabilization

Civil Life in Chaos

U.S. Command Structure

The U.S. Army and the Discovery of Assets

Managing Refugees and Displaced Persons

Policy Versus Implementation

Control of Victims' Assets in the United States

The United States Treasury Department and Frozen Assets

The Bureau of Customs, Import Prohibitions, and the Post Office

The Cold War and the Jewish State

Summary

Chapter III: Assets in the United States

Introduction

Foreign Funds Control and the "Freezing" of Assets

Freezing Foreign-owned Assets

Assets within the United States

Licensing

Aliens, Nationals, Enemies, Friends

Numbers and Definitions

Alien Enemies: Restrictions and Rights

Aliens and Real Property

Victims in Europe

"Vesting" Assets and the Office of Alien Property Custodian

Creation of the Office of Alien Property Custodian

Evaluating the Property Taken Under Control

The Postwar Period

Summary

Chapter IV: Assets in Europe

Introduction

Organizations, Policies, and Operations to Protect Valuables in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe, 1942-1945

Protecting Art and Cultural Objects in North Africa & Sicily

Activities in Italy Relating to Art and Other Valuables

MFA&A in France and the Benelux Countries

Preparations for the Final Offensive into Germany and Austria

MFA&A Roles and Responsibilities

Other Organizations Participating in the Recovery of Assets

Directives on the Control of Assets in Germany and Austria

Intelligence on German Looting and the Location of Valuables

Discovery of Caches During the Final Offensive

Initial Activities Following the German Surrender

Consolidation of Assets--Establishing Collecting Points

Operation of Collecting Points

The Case of the Hungarian Gold Train

Security Issues

Problems in the Field

Problems at Collecting Points

Laying the Groundwork for Restitution

Summary

Chapter V: Restitution of Victim's Assets

Introduction

Restitution in Europe

Context and Planning

Restitution to Countries, Not Individuals (External Restitution)

Victims' Assets and the Paris Reparations Agreement

The Restitution of Identifiable Property in Germany: Law 59

The Jewish Restitution Successor Organization

Problems with Restitution

Berlin

Restitution Efforts in Austria

Recovery of Property in the United States

Unblocking Assets at the FFC

Transfer of Responsibility to the OAP

OAP--Divesting and Unblocking

OAP and Other Victim Assets

The JRSO and Recovery of Heirless Assets in the United States

Summary

Chapter VI: Heirless Assets and the Role of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.

Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.: Origins and Purposes

Communal Property

Torah Scrolls

Ceremonial Objects

Paintings

Books

Identification and Return

Allocation and Distribution

Difficulties with Distribution

Summary

Chapter VII: Conclusion

Seizures of Assets from Sinti and Roma, Homosexual and Disabled Victims of the Holocaust

The Impact of the Cold War and the Creation of the State of Israel on the Formulation and Implementation of American Restitution Policy

Third Country Avenues for the Importation of Looted Assets into the United States

The Quantification of Holocaust Victims' Assets

The Relationship between Jewish Organizations and U.S. Government Agencies

The Presence of Victim Gold Circulating in the International Market

The Role of State Governments in Handling Dormant Assets

Comprehensive Integration of Findings from Other National Commissions

Abbreviations and Glossary

Chronology of Key Events

Bibliography

List of Tables

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