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Monday, May 2, 2011

Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Task Force Goes Operational On-Line

Today, Holocaust Rememberance Day, is an exciting day for those of us interested in the restitution of property rights to those who were once wrongfully dispossessed. That's because today, Project Heart's Holocaust Asset Era Restitution Task Force began a process of attempting to link together, on-line, Jews dispossessed during the holocaust (or their heirs) with the expropriated properties. The Project has compiled an archive of 650,000 pieces of property -- characterized in the civil tradition as movable, immovable, and intangible --along with the names of the dispossessed owners. According to the New York Times,

This is the first worldwide list of property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era to be made available to survivors and their heirs. Compiled from hundreds of European archives, including tax records and voter registries, it includes real estate and land, movable property like art and jewelry, and intangible personal property like stocks, bonds and savings accounts.

Eligible claimants must fill out an on-line questionnaire describing the property expropriated and their relationship to the former owner.

To be eligible to make a claim, one must be a Jew who was dispossessed during the Nazi era, or the heir of such a person, who has not previously received compensation for the property.

The Project intends to negotiate for the return of the property, and to pursue legal remedies where negotiations are unavailing. It has already secured the cooperation of several European governments.

It is an exciting and important step towards justice.

Mark A. Edwards

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