Jewish Successor Organizations

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JEWISH SUCCESSOR ORGANIZATIONS in Germany, organizations for tracing and recovering heirless Jewish property of those Jews who were victims of the Nazis.

Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (jrso)

The Americans were foremost in setting up a framework, and the first Jewish body for claims in the American Zone, the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (jrso), was established in 1948 with offices in Nuremberg. In 1950 a similar body, the Jewish Trust Corporation (jtc), was established in the former British Zone (northwest Germany) with the approval of the British government. Later a separate branch was established in the French Zone. A joint office was created by them for the three sectors of West Berlin.

Where the former Jewish property owner within the American Zone had died without an heir, or where no claim was made, the jrso was empowered to file claims and apply the proceeds to the relief of needy refugees anywhere in the world. The jrso also claimed restitution of Jewish communal property. The proceeds served primarily the religious and cultural needs of the surviving communities in West Germany and were then handed over to the general refugee funds. Where an individual claimant subsequently appeared too late to lodge his own claim application, the jrso, as well as the jtc, adopted an equity procedure for settlement up until Dec. 31, 1958. The American organization recovered by the end of 1967 nearly 200,000,000 dm ($50,000,000) in addition to the immovable property restored to the communities, and the operation was not yet completed. The amount recovered includes the value of property in West Berlin. The overwhelming part of the fund was obtained by a global settlement made with the authorities of the German Laender and of West Berlin, in the areas in which the property was situated or had been confiscated. The authorities were asked to pay a lump sum and, in return, were subrogated to the remainder of the unsettled claims of the organization against German individuals who had acquired the immovable property. The authorities could then make their settlement with the German owner.

[Norman Bentwich]

Jewish Trust Corporation (jtc)

The primary task of the jtc was to locate within an 18-month time limit property that remained unclaimed after June 30, 1950, the deadline established by the Restitution Law for the British Zone for claims by the original owners or their heirs. The declaration of former Jewish property by those who had acquired it under the Nazi regime proved unreliable and incomplete, so that 70% of jtc's claims for landed property resulted from its own search activities. Not a single item of former communal and organizational property remained undiscovered, and in only a very few cases did former individual property come belatedly to the notice of the jtc. The jtc enforced proceedings before restitution courts for the recovery in natura of property claimed by it, or arrived at cash settlements with those who had acquired it under the Nazi regime. Certain claims (those resulting from mass confiscatory measures of the Third Reich) were settled in bulk with the Federal German Republic and other claims (damage to former Jewish communal organizational property) with the Laender, or with Hamburg and Berlin. By the end of 1967, the JTC had recovered a total of 169,500,000 dm (approx. $42,375,000). The Corporation by that time almost reached the end of its operations, but it was expected that about four million dm (approx. U.S. $1,100,000) might still accrue to its funds. The major recipients of jtc funds were the Jewish Agency for Israel, for Youth Aliyah work; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for *Malben work; the Central British Fund for assistance to Nazi victims in the U.K.; the Leo Baeck Charitable Trust, for assistance to Nazi victims in various countries; equity claimants; Jewish communities in Germany and their organizations; organizations for the building of synagogues and maintenance of yeshivot in Israel; and the *Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Branche française de la Jewish Trust Corporation for Germany

In the French Zone of occupation the right to heirless and unclaimed Jewish property was originally vested by the French authorities in the Laender governments, and the proceeds were used for general indemnification purposes. In September 1951 the rights of the Laender were abrogated. In March 1952 the French Haut Commissaire for Germany appointed a specially created department of jtc, the so-called Branche Française, as the Jewish successor organization for the French Zone. The branch was fully autonomous. It had its seat in Paris and was directed by its own Conseil d'Administration. The operational office was in Mainz. The claiming period accorded to the branch ended on April 30, 1953, and the branch was limited to claims on such property as had not already been adjudicated with the Laender governments. The total amount recovered by the end of 1967 was 27,550,000 dm (approx. $6,888,000).

After the 1960s the role of the Jewish Successor Organizations diminished. All activities ended in the 1970s.

[Charles I. Kapralik (2nda ed.)]

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Jewish Successor Organizations

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