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Soviet Claims Heirless Property in Israel; Satellites May Follow

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The Soviet Government was reported here today as intensifying its activities to obtain Jewish property in Israel which was left without heirs here, but where there are heirs in Russia, Authorities estimate that property valued at 1,500,000 Israeli pounds have already been transferred to the Soviet Union.

The feeling exists here that Soviet satellites may soon follow Russia’s example and seek the return of heirless property to relatives living in these countries. A special office in Moscow keeps check on property of Russian citizens living abroad as well as on property that can be claimed for heirs residing in the Soviet Union. In cases where the property can be claimed for heirs in the U.S.S.R., the Soviet authorities claim the property for them.

One case involved a Tel Aviv jeweler named Wernikov who died in 1947 and who was technically a Russian citizen. The Russian representative in Palestine at the time demanded that the safe of the decease be inspected to establish whether it contained jewels taken from the Czar’s court. The Soviet Government recently increased its pressure on Israel to transfer to it property belonging to the Russian Pravoslav Society, a dissident group, which claims the property did not belong to the Russian Government or the Russian Orthodox Church.

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