The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany
The Claims Conference works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust and heirs of victims.
Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria as well as other governments and industry. It has also recovered unclaimed German Jewish property and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.
To date, more than 500,000 Holocaust survivors in 67 countries have received more than DM 100 billion in compensation payments as a result of the work of the Claims Conference. The Claims Conference has also allocated more than $500 million to organisations meeting the social service needs of Holocaust survivors, and engaging in education, research, and documentation of the Shoah.
In Great Britain, the AJR receives and distributes (on behalf of an ad-hoc Umbrella Group committee) funds allocated to survivors living in this country.
Claims Conference Goodwill Fund
The Claims Conference has announced changes to the Goodwill Fund that could allow certain claimants the right to receive reparations for properties they or their families owned in the former East Germany.
The Goodwill Fund was established by the Claims Conference in 1994 to make payments to entitled owners, and their heirs, of properties in the former East Germany. It was set up following the expiry of the German National Restitution Law in 1992 enacted after German unification in 1990.
The changes mean that if an application is made after March 31, 2004 (the previous deadline) which otherwise would have been eligible under the Guidelines it can be reviewed on a case by case basis for inclusion in the Goodwill Fund provided it meets either of the following conditions:
a) The claim was submitted by an original owner of the property or spouse of the original owner, or
b) The claim was submitted by a child, grandchild or great grandchild of the original owner who can prove, through medical documentation that they were, for medical reasons, unable to file an application in the period immediately before the deadline of March 31, 2004.
Following German unification in 1990 the German government introduced a national restitution law. The law entitled the former owners – and their heirs – of homes and businesses and other properties in the former Communist country to claim restitution.
At the expiry of the restitution law in 1992 the Claims Conference was appointed as the legal owner of all unclaimed properties formerly owned by Jewish victims of the Holocaust in the former East Germany. Acting in the guise of the Successor Organisation, the Claims Conference then welcomed claims and arranged for individuals to recover properties.
At the end of 1998 the Claims Conference changed the rules of the Goodwill Fund. While continuing to assist claimants via the Successor Organisation, the Goodwill Fund entitled the Claims Conference to retain 20% of an award to successful claimants as an assessment for services. This portion of the compensation was used by the Claims Conference to provide social and welfare programmes that support Holocaust survivors and refugees worldwide.
A list of the assets already recovered by the Claims Conference is available at http://www.claimscon.org/index.asp?url=successor/recoveries_080608
Claims Conference News
The latest information from the Claims Conference is available here