Home > 105th Congressional Bills > S. 1564 (es) To provide redress for inadequate restitution of assets seized by the United States Government during World War II which belonged to victims of the Holocaust, and for other purposes. ...

S. 1564 (es) To provide redress for inadequate restitution of assets seized by the United States Government during World War II which belonged to victims of the Holocaust, and for other purposes. ...


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        S.1564

                       One Hundred Fifth Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America


                          AT THE SECOND SESSION

          Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the twenty-seventh day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-
                                  eight


                                 An Act


 
 To provide redress for inadequate restitution of assets seized by the 
 United States Government during World War II which belonged to victims 
                of the Holocaust, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Holocaust Victims Redress Act''.

                        TITLE I--HEIRLESS ASSETS

SEC. 101. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds as follows:
        (1) Among the $198,000,000 in German assets located in the 
    United States and seized by the United States Government in World 
    War II were believed to be bank accounts, trusts, securities, or 
    other assets belonging to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
        (2) Among an estimated $1,200,000,000 in assets of Swiss 
    nationals and institutions which were frozen by the United States 
    Government during World War II (including over $400,000,000 in bank 
    deposits) were assets whose beneficial owners were believed to 
    include victims of the Holocaust.
        (3) In the aftermath of the war, the Congress recognized that 
    some of the victims of the Holocaust whose assets were among those 
    seized or frozen during the war might not have any legal heirs, and 
    legislation was enacted to authorize the transfer of up to 
    $3,000,000 of such assets to organizations dedicated to providing 
    relief and rehabilitation for survivors of the Holocaust.
        (4) Although the Congress and the Administration authorized the 
    transfer of such amount to the relief organizations referred to in 
    paragraph (3), the enormous administrative difficulties and cost 
    involved in proving legal ownership of such assets, directly or 
    beneficially, by victims of the Holocaust, and proving the 
    existence or absence of heirs of such victims, led the Congress in 
    1962 to agree to a lump-sum settlement and to provide $500,000 for 
    the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization of New York, such sum 
    amounting to \1/6\th of the authorized maximum level of 
    ``heirless'' assets to be transferred.
        (5) In June of 1997, a representative of the Secretary of 
    State, in testimony before the Congress, urged the reconsideration 
    of the limited $500,000 settlement.
        (6) While a precisely accurate accounting of ``heirless'' 
    assets may be impossible, good conscience warrants the recognition 
    that the victims of the Holocaust have a compelling moral claim to 
    the unrestituted portion of assets referred to in paragraph (3).
        (7) Furthermore, leadership by the United States in meeting 
    obligations to Holocaust victims would strengthen--
            (A) the efforts of the United States to press for the 
        speedy distribution of the remaining nearly 6 metric tons of 
        gold still held by the Tripartite Commission for the 
        Restitution of Monetary Gold (the body established by France, 
        Great Britain, and the United States at the end of World War II 
        to return gold looted by Nazi Germany to the central banks of 
        countries occupied by Germany during the war); and
            (B) the appeals by the United States to the 15 nations 
        claiming a portion of such gold to contribute a substantial 
        portion of any such distribution to Holocaust survivors in 
        recognition of the recently documented fact that the gold held 
        by the Commission includes gold stolen from individual victims 
        of the Holocaust.
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are as follows:
        (1) To provide a measure of justice to survivors of the 
    Holocaust all around the world while they are still alive.
        (2) To authorize the appropriation of an amount which is at 
    least equal to the present value of the difference between the 
    amount which was authorized to be transferred to successor 
    organizations to compensate for assets in the United States of 
    heirless victims of the Holocaust and the amount actually paid in 
    1962 to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization of New York 
    for that purpose.
        (3) To facilitate efforts by the United States to seek an 
    agreement whereby nations with claims against gold held by the 
    Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold would 
    contribute all, or a substantial portion, of that gold to 
    charitable organizations to assist survivors of the Holocaust.

SEC. 102. DISTRIBUTIONS BY THE TRIPARTITE GOLD COMMISSION.

    (a) Directions to the President.--The President shall direct the 
commissioner representing the United States on the Tripartite 
Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold, established pursuant 
to Part III of the Paris Agreement on Reparation, to seek and vote for 
a timely agreement under which all signatories to the Paris Agreement 
on Reparation, with claims against the monetary gold pool in the 
jurisdiction of such Commission, contribute all, or a substantial 
portion, of such gold to charitable organizations to assist survivors 
of the Holocaust.
    (b) Authority To Obligate the United States.--
        (1) In general.--From funds otherwise unobligated in the 
    Treasury of the United States, the President is authorized to 
    obligate subject to paragraph (2) an amount not to exceed 
    $30,000,000 for distribution in accordance with subsections (a) and 
    (b).
        (2) Conformance with budget act requirement.--Any budget 
    authority contained in paragraph (1) shall be effective only to 
    such extent and in such amounts as are provided in advance in 
    appropriation Acts.

SEC. 103. FULFILLMENT OF OBLIGATION OF THE UNITED STATES.

    (a) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to the President such sums as may be necessary for fiscal 
years 1998, 1999, and 2000, not to exceed a total of $25,000,000 for 
all such fiscal years, for distribution to organizations as may be 
specified in any agreement concluded pursuant to section 102.
    (b) Archival Research.--There are authorized to be appropriated to 
the President $5,000,000 for archival research and translation services 
to assist in the restitution of assets looted or extorted from victims 
of the Holocaust and such other activities that would further Holocaust 
remembrance and education.

                         TITLE II--WORKS OF ART

SEC. 201. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds as follows:
        (1) Established pre-World War II principles of international 
    law, as enunciated in Articles 47 and 56 of the Regulations annexed 
    to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs 
    of War on Land, prohibited pillage and the seizure of works of art.
        (2) In the years since World War II, international sanctions 
    against confiscation of works of art have been amplified through 
    such conventions as the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting 
    and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership 
    of Cultural Property, which forbids the illegal export of art work 
    and calls for its earliest possible restitution to its rightful 
    owner.
        (3) In defiance of the 1907 Hague Convention, the Nazis 
    extorted and looted art from individuals and institutions in 
    countries it occupied during World War II and used such booty to 
    help finance their war of aggression.
        (4) The Nazis' policy of looting art was a critical element and 
    incentive in their campaign of genocide against individuals of 
    Jewish and other religious and cultural heritage and, in this 
    context, the Holocaust, while standing as a civil war against 
    defined individuals and civilized values, must be considered a 
    fundamental aspect of the world war unleashed on the continent.
        (5) Hence, the same international legal principles applied 
    among states should be applied to art and other assets stolen from 
    victims of the Holocaust.
        (6) In the aftermath of the war, art and other assets were 
    transferred from territory previously controlled by the Nazis to 
    the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, much of which has not been 
    returned to rightful owners.

SEC. 202. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING RESTITUTION OF PRIVATE 
              PROPERTY, SUCH AS WORKS OF ART.

    It is the sense of the Congress that consistent with the 1907 Hague 
Convention, all governments should undertake good faith efforts to 
facilitate the return of private and public property, such as works of 
art, to the rightful owners in cases where assets were confiscated from 
the claimant during the period of Nazi rule and there is reasonable 
proof that the claimant is the rightful owner.

                               Speaker of the House of Representatives.

                            Vice President of the United States and    
                                               President of the Senate.

Pages: 1

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