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Frenchmen Prepare to Challenge Return of Confiscated Jewish Property to Owners

Frenchmen who acquired confiscated Jewish property during the German occupation are expected to put up a strong legal fight to retain this property despite the abrogation of transactions completed under the Vichy anti-Jewish laws, it was indicated here today.

More than 2,000 Nazi-appointed real estate managers and at least 5,000 business administrators operated confiscated Jewish property in Paris during the occupation. Emanuel Langberg and Richard Weill, two prominent Parisians, are now working on the records of the dissolved Union Generale de Juifs do France in order to establish the extent to which Jewish property was expropriated. Part of the funds of the Union Generale came from confiscated Jewish possessions.

Mr. Langberg, who was commandant of the notorious concentration camp in Drancy, Paris suburb, for more than thirteen months, has been entrusted with the liquidation of the Union Generale de Juifs de France which is considered a collaborationist organization. Some Jews in Paris have raised the question of whether a former commandant of the Dranoy camp is fit for this position. But Langberg has documents signed by prominent internees of the camp attesting his aid to members of the resistance movement when they were held in the Drancy camp. These documents bear the stamp of the French underground movement. Among the signatories is Capt. George Dreyfuss who was one of the last deportees from Drancy.

JEWISH FEDERATION REFUSES TO USE FUNDS EXPROPRIATED FROM JEWS

In the early days of the occupation of Paris by the Germans, the Federation of Jewish Societies here was forced to conduct its activities as part of the Union Generale de Juifs de France which was given 11,000,000 francs monthly to cover its budget. Since the money came from confiscated Jewish possessions, the Federation refused to accept any funds from the Union Generale, and conducted its work independently, giving all possible aid to needy Jews and supplying fugitive Jews with false identity documents to prevent their deportation to Poland.

At present, the Federation is a part of the Jewish Unity Committee which has been functioning in Paris under the leadership of A. Alpert, the 70-year-old president of the World Ort Organization who spent eighteen months in the Drancy camp. The Unity committee is composed of representatives of various political parties including Zionists, Socialists, Communists and French-Jewish fighting youth groups. Representatives of the Ort, Ose and other Jewish organizations are also included in the committee.

The Unity Committee was organized in Paris as an underground relief body exactly a year ago. It successfully distributed relief funds to Jews illegally all over France and maintained constant contact with the Jewish underground groups in the southern part of the country where most of the needy Jews were congregated. All leaders of the committee used false names.

ZIONIST AND NON-ZIONIST YOUTH UNITED IN UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE

One of the leaders of the committee, Simon Leavitt, distinguished himself as head of two Jewish youth groups – Eclairer Israelite and Zionist Youth – which played an important role in the Jewish resistance movement. Another Jewish underground youth group, composed of Zionists and non-Zionists, was known under the name of “Group Six,” ? Jewish unit of the Patriotic Militia is now included in the First Paris Regiment, while the two Jewish youth groups headed by Leavitt have been given the honor of guarding the headquarters of the Paris commander.

Mr. Alpert today expressed hope that the Joint Distribution Committee will soon be permitted to re-open its offices in Paris. He emphasized that more Jews continue to come to Paris daily from hiding places in the provinces and that it is essential that the Ort training schools for children and for adults be reopened.

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