Restitution Law to Be Proclaimed in U.S. Zone of Germany; Jews to Recover Property

A restitution law which will return millions of dollars to tens of thousands of Jews and non-Jews whose property was stolen in Germany by the Nazis is expected to be proclaimed in the United States zone of Germany on Monday by General Lucius D. Clay, American military commander there. The law will make it possible for the Jewish Restitution Committee, composed of representatives of major Jewish organizations in the U.S. and England, to gain control of heirless Jewish property.

The law will seek to restore Nazi looted property to the rightful owners. It will be applied in the entire U.S. zone, with the exception of the American sector of Berlin. Individuals who were deprived by the Nazis of identifiable property between Jan. 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 for reasons of race, religion, nationality, ideology, or political opposition to Hitlerism, will have the right, under this law, to reclaim their property.

No official estimate of the value of property which may be subject to restitution is available. Unofficially, however, the amount of property in the American zone subject to restitution is estimated at 4,000,000,000 marks. Of this, about two-thirds was seized from non-Jewish owners.

OTHER THREE OCCUPYING POWERS EXPECTED TO FOLLOW U.S. EXAMPLE

In promulgating the restitution law, the U.S. will become the first of the four occupying powers to arrange for the return of looted property. Efforts by the American authorities to havethe other three powers — Britain, France and Russia — join in issuing a uniform law for all the occupation zones did not succeed. However, it is hoped that the other powers will soon follow Gen. Clay’s example.

The restitution law will, it is understood, provide that returned property or its proceeds cannot be taken out of Germany. The drafting of this law began in the summer of 1946. On the initiative of the American Military Government, the work was undertaken by a commission of German legal experts, assisted by U.S. military officials and experts on the devious processes by which the Nazis stole the property.

The procedure for filing individual claims will be announced on Monday simultaneously with the promulgation of the law. It is understood that claims will have to be cleared through a cetral agency which will be established in one of the larger cities in the U.S. zone. With regard to heirless property, it is learned that the restitution law provides that such property can be claimed by approved successor organizations representing the various groups of victims.

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