Berlin Agrees to Pay $3,500,000 in Settlement of Jewish Claims

The West Berlin city administration tentatively agreed today to pay nearly $3,500,000 to two Jewish successor organizations in a global settlement for claims for heirless and communal Jewish property seized by the Nazis in what now constitutes the three Western sectors of this city.

The agreement, which still has not been signed and must first be studied and approved by the city’s parliament, was reached after many years of wearisome negotiations in which Dr. Nahum Goldmann, head of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, intervened on several occasions.

The arrangement provides that Berlin will pay out $239,000 in cash to the successor organizations–the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, set up in the United States, and the Jewish Trust Corporation, organized in Britain. In addition, industrial products worth $3,200,000 will be shipped to Israel by the Berlin municipality through the Israel Purchasing Mission. The Israel Government will refund the value of the goods to the two successor groups, probably over a period of two years.

In return, the Jewish groups will cede all claims for the property of Jewish victims of the Nazis who died heirless and communal property, excluding certain endowed property such as real estate formerly owned by the B’nai B’rith. The city will recover its money from present possessors of “Aryanized” property.

The actual claims of the two successor organizations amount to many times more than the amount of the settlement, but pressing each individual claim in court is a laborious and costly proposition. Besides, once the real estate is recovered it is difficult to find a market for it owing to Berlin’s isolated political and geographic position.

Once the agreement is signed, the JRSO will be able to wind up its operations in West Berlin. This agreement will be the last concluded by the JRSO with local states in the American zone of West Germany.

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