Claims Conference to compensate Nazi victims for seized East German property - World Jewish Congress

Claims Conference to compensate Nazi victims for seized East German property

Claims Conference to compensate Nazi victims for seized East German property

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The New York-based Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany has published a list of thousands of Jews who lost property in former East Germany. The body said these Jews and their families who lost property during World War II and which was later nationalized by Communist East Germany would be eligible to receive compensation from a €50 million (US$ 67 million) ‘Late Applications' fund set up for that purpose by the organization.

The Claims Conference said it had obtained a list of properties and assets for which claims “are still pending under the German Property Restitution Law, including the name of the former owners and/or businesses, as well as the addresses of the properties/assets." The list, which includes the supposed owners and additional information on each property, is available on the organization's website.

The claims, the statement says, would be handled in accordance with the agreement the organization struck with the German authorities, which stipulates the Claims Conference is the "legal successor to individual Jewish property and property of dissolved Jewish communities and organizations in the former East Germany that went unclaimed after 31 December 1992."

"As a result [of the agreement], original Jewish owners and heirs gained the right to file claims for property in the former East Germany. ...Tens of thousands of owners and heirs filed claims and recovered assets under the legislation that resulted from these negotiations carried out by the Claims Conference." Due to its status, the Claims Conference could pay claimants "even after the German deadlines of 1992-93."

The organization established a Goodwill Fund for such purposes, and with its latest decision to create the Late Applicants Fund, potential heirs can now file claims until the end of 2014.

To view the list of names, click here.

Information about the fund and application criteria

This fund has been established taking into consideration the following factors:

  • That the Claims Conference has full legal title to the unclaimed property/assets it received as a result of its filings under the Property Law; that the final deadline of the Goodwill Fund was March 31, 2004 – more than a decade after the Goodwill Fund was established to make ex gratia payments to certain heirs; and that the Claims Conference Board of Directors has repeatedly decided not to reopen the Goodwill Fund;
  • That the Claims Conference requires certainty in the amount of available funds in order to make the necessary allocations for desperately needed welfare services to Nazi victims such as home care, pursuant to the principles set forth at the establishment of the Goodwill Fund;
  • That certain heirs of former owners of Jewish property in the former East Germany have missed both the statutory deadline under the German Law and the deadline of the Goodwill Fund but have nevertheless requested part of the proceeds obtained by the Claims Conference for the property/assets formerly owned by their ancestors.

Applications to the fund will be accepted from the following heirs of the former owner:

  • The immediate testamentary heir of the former owner;
  • Children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren of the former owner;
  • Siblings of the former owner;
  • Children of the siblings listed under (c), above:
  • Spouses of the persons listed under (b), (c) and (d);

Legal entities will not be entitled to receive a payment. Members of the same family who would like to apply to receive a payment from the Late Applicants Fund should each complete and submit a separate application form.

The amount received by each individual heir will additionally depend upon the following factors:

a) whether any payment has already been made by the Goodwill Fund or the Late Applicants Fund for the portion of the property/asset for which the heir is applying;  and
b) whether there exists any heir with a better entitlement to the property or the portion of the property for which the heir is applying; and
c) the portion of the property to which the heir is entitled.

In no case will the amount received by an individual heir (or a group of heirs, if there are a number of heirs to one asset/property) exceed 80 percent of the net proceeds received by the Claims Conference for the asset. 'Net proceeds' is the amount after taxes, mortgages, the cost of appraisals, legal fees, insurance and other charges, in any way related or connected with the property or asset, are be deducted from the initial proceeds from the sale, compensation payment or settlement regarding the property or assets. In addition, in no event will any heir receive more than he or she would have received if he or she had made a timely claim under the German Property Law 1990.

For further information about the application process and to download the application form online, please visit the Claims Conference website.