Jewish Restitution Body Filed 74,000 Claims for Heirless, Communal Property in Germany

Nearly 74,000 claims for restitution of heiress or communal Jewish property have been filed with the American military government in Germany by the Jewish Restitution Organization, it was revealed in a report the organization’s activities in 1948 made public here today.

Among the claims are some 9,800 against the former German Government, 9,500 which deal with businesses, 9,500 which pertain to mortgages and other forms of seniorities and 19,000 claims for personal property including such items as household ?rnishings and Jewelry. Officials of the J.R.S.0, estimate that the filing agency ?ill not he able to process and dispatch the individual claims of last year to the various restitution bureaus before May 1. Therefore, it was stated, “no clear picture can be expected before June, 1949, at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the J.R.S.O. is proceeding with some 2,000 claims for communal property which have not been otherwise claimed or which specific communities have ?conceded they do not need. No agreement has yet been reached on the disposition of property which the J.R.S.O. desires to claim but which a community does not choose to relinquish. Officials of the restitution organization hope to acquire all claimed property within, less than two years.

The report reveals that as far as cultural property is concerned, an agreement has been reached between the military government and the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction organization for turning over some 200,000 Jewish books and manuscripts as well as a considerable quantity of Scrolls, silver candlesticks, goblets and other Jewish cultural and religious objects. The military government has agreed to crate these objects and ship them to any point on the German border, at the expense of the German economy.

In addition, the J.R.S.O. has laid claim to some 100,000 Jewish owned books under Law 59 of the U.S. zone which deals with the restitution of Nazi-stolen or confiscated Jewish property in the hands of Germans. If a distribution schedule for the books and religious objects can be worked out between the organization and major Jewish public or quasi-public institutions throughout the world it would be possible to take all these objects out of Germany in six months. The librarian of the Hebrew University has already been assigned to work with the Jewish cultural restitution organization to sort out material desired by his institution, the report says.

Negotiations have been in progress to extend the restitution law to the British, French and American sectors of Berlin. Unless tri-partite approval is forthcoming soon, it is expected that the law will be extended unilaterally to the U.S. sector. This development would be considered here a victory for the Jewish groups involved, who have been pressing for speed in the matter of restitution.

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