Israel Seeks to Return Assets to Heirs of Holocaust Victims

“Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets” Launches Campaign to Locate Beneficiaries of 60,000 Israeli-Based Assets

By HASHAVA.ORG.IL
April 25, 2010 12:47
3 minute read.
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For the past four years, the Petach Tikva based organization appropriately named “Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets”, has been scouring the world in search of heirs of Holocaust victims. Their goal is a simple one – return Israel based assets belonging to the families of Nazi victims.

The Company, a non-profit organization, formed by decree of the Knesset in 2006, launched a campaign in North America this month in selected Jewish media outlets designed to get people to log onto their website (www.hashava.org.il/eng) and have a look through the list of some 60,000 assets.  The inventory includes first and last names of the owner, type of asset as well as country and city/town (when available).

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Building in Tel Aviv
“We hope we can locate some people who’s relatives were killed in Holocaust”, says the Company’s CEO, Zvi Kanor. “Our mission is to right a decades-old wrong”  Kanor says, “Only 5 years ago the Israeli Government made restitution of these assets of Holocaust victims a national priority and we are totally committed to investigating every avenue to get the job done.”
An interview with Elinor Kroitoru - Head of asset location and heir search division



                                  

As of today, the combined assets are worth an estimated 850 million NIS ($230 million), with the majority of that value coming from real estate. There are also unclaimed bank accounts, stocks, bonds, shares and even a small number of works of art.

While the Company searches for family and descendants of victims, it is actively helping the Holocaust survivors still with us. Over the past two years, the Company has given some 170 million NIS ($46 million) to help survivors in need make ends meet with medical costs, physical and psychological assistance and other expenses. For 2010, some 130 million NIS ($35 million) has been earmarked for the same worthy cause. The Company is also planning to make key disbursements to Holocaust memorial and education programs.
                                                                      
Plot of Land in Denia Section of Haifa
Nevertheless, the Company is meeting resistance from several key Israeli institutions who are in possession of these assets. “There is legal action pending against several Israeli banks, including Bank Leumi (formally the Anglo-Palestine bank) which is reluctant to hand over the funds which they’ve been holding on to for decades” says Kanor. 

The Company’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Menachem Ariav, now 80, is himself a Holocaust survivor. Having made “Aliya” in 1949 and living through the formative years of Israel, Ariav is now leading the charge to get the assets, which have been lying around, forgotten to the world, back into the hands of their rightful owners. “In just a few years, all of the people who lived through the darkest time of human history will be gone. We are in a race against time as everyday, with the passing of every survivor, information is lost forever.  We owe it to them and the 6 million who were killed by the Nazis to keep their memories alive and to do the right thing by returning these assets” states Ariav. “These people invested in a Jewish homeland which, if it had existed at the time, might have saved them. They never lived to see this dream, the dream of the State of Israel, to come to pass. The least the State can do is to give the families what rightfully belongs to them.”

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