| Home > 105th Congressional Bills > S. 1565 (cps) To make technical corrections to the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. x ...
S. 1565 (cps) To make technical corrections to the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. x ...
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
November 13, 1997
Referred to the Committee on International Relations
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
(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
(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
(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)
(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
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
(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.
Passed the Senate November 13, 1997.
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105th Congressional Bills Records and Documents
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