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 ...

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  1st Session
                                S. 1564



                           November 13, 1997

          Referred to the Committee on International Relations


                                 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,


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

                        TITLE I--HEIRLESS ASSETS


    (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 
        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 
    (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.


    (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.


    (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


    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.


    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.


                                                    GARY SISCO,


Pages: 1

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