Senate Committee Approves Settlement on Heirless Property in Germany

The Senate Judiciary Committee today brushed aside objections by the Budget Bureau and endorsed the House version of the Heirless Property Bill which provides for a bulk settlement of $500,000 of claims on Nazi persecution victims. The settlement was negotiated between the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization and the Office of Alien Property of the Department of Justice.

The money will come from confiscated properties. The settlement was agreed upon as an estimation of Jewish assets which were not claimed because their owners and their heirs are no longer alive. The Budget Bureau suggested that the sum be cut in half, after which the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee reported the bill out “without recommendation”; the full committee has now restored the original sum.

The Senate committee also acted today on other war claims legislation which, however, does not recognize claims of Americans who became U.S. citizens after the war. A number of bills amending the Trading With the Enemy Act–involving assets of subjects of the Axis Powers which were confiscated by the U.S. Government in World War II–were reported out today by the Senate Judiciary Committee. They have been passed by the House and it is hoped that the Senate will act on them before adjourning.

Senator Kenneth Keating of New York announced that he will offer amendments to the War Claims Bill to include the “later citizens” and to restore the provisions for payment of compensation. The New York Republican filed a minority report on the bill after the committee voted down his motion to include these amendments in its recommendations.

The War Claims Bill applies to injury, death or property losses suffered by Americans in certain areas as a result of military action in World War II. It does not include as beneficiaries Americans who became citizens after the war. This omission was called by Senator Keating “an unjustified discrimination.” It is doubtful, however, whether any amendment can be pushed through at this session, since even the House did not include the new citizens in its version of the bill.

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