Where do you think you are, Switzerland?

Bank Leumi won’t pay Holocaust victims’ heirs

Bank Leumi, which holds most of the accounts of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, does not intend to pay the money it owes the survivors and victims’ heirs at this stage. The bank made this clear despite the publication of the parliamentary inquiry commission on this matter last week.

According to the commission’s report, the bank owes the survivors and victims’ heirs some NIS 35 million, which, together with the index-linkage and interest the commission set reach NIS 307 million.



By Yair Sheleg
Last update — 01:29 23/01/2005

Ethnic cleansing, Israel style

Gov’t decision strips Palestinians of their East J’lem property

The Sharon government implemented the Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem last July, contrary to Israeli government policy, since Israeli law was extended to East Jerusalem after the Six Day War.

The law means that thousands of Palestinians who live in the West Bank will lose ownership of their property in East Jerusalem.

Government officials estimate the assets total thousands of dunam, while other estimates say they could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property.



Meron Rappaport, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update — 15:01 20/01/2005

Money is a big factor

Stop ‘teaching’ the Holocaust


Type out the word “Holocaust” on Google and you’ll get about seven million hits. So don’t tell me we’ve failed to raise the Holocaust in the consciousness of mankind.

What we have failed to do is correctly assess the value of consciousness-raising.

The problem runs deeper. Sixty years after the Shoah, the Berlin Jewish community is still trying to get more money out of the German government. Money is a big factor in pedestrianizing the Shoah.


But the memorialization of Hitler’s victims has been sullied by the money it takes to keep Shoah-business in business.

Beyond making sure that the survivors receive their compensation checks, isn’t it time we said enough is enough?

The issue isn’t just money. When will we finally stop manipulating the Shoah for partisan purposes?

When MK Danny Naveh opposes a postage stamp marking Israel-Germany friendship because it doesn’t reference the Shoah, I don’t see his stance as honoring the memory of the martyrs or showing sensitivity to the survivors, but as demagoguery.

Another stamp bearing Shoah imagery isn’t what Israel needs.


Elliot Jager
January 14, 2005
This article was published originally in The Jerusalem Post.
© 2001-2005 Koret Communications Ltd. All rights reserved.

At least he isn’t a Nazi

NJ accuses Holocaust lawyer of misusing money from two clients

NEWARK, N.J. — A lawyer who helped win billions of dollars for thousands of Holocaust victims has been accused by an attorney ethics panel of misusing money from two of those clients.

Edward Fagan, who gained worldwide attention for his role in litigation against Swiss banks and German corporations, could face sanctions up to disbarment if the charges are upheld.

“He stabbed me right in the back,” said Gizella Weisshaus, 75, who survived the Auschwitz death camp. “I supported him. He used me. He used my money.”

Efforts to reach Fagan for comment were unsuccessful. Several newspapers reported they could not contact him by phone or at his home on Monday. Fagan on Tuesday was no longer reachable at numbers he has used in the past. He has until February to respond to the charges brought by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.

The ethics office, part of the state Supreme Court, charged last month that Fagan misused $400,000 from Estelle Sapir and Weisshaus, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the initial plaintiff in the 1996 Swiss bank case. It became a class-action case and was settled in 1998 for $1.25 billion.

Fagan later was among lawyers who won billions from German corporations. He has since sued seeking money for suffering under South African apartheid and American slavery.

The attorney ethics office accused Fagan of draining Weisshaus’ trust account, then seeking to replace the money with funds from the settlement he had won for Sapir. The complaint also charged that he wrote checks to cash on Sapir’s account and transferred the money to business accounts.


Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

Clearly, more reparations must be paid

Holocaust fund investigated for ‘unusual’ money transfers

The World Jewish Congress, which has wrung billions of dollars in Holocaust restitution from European governments and companies, is being investigated by the authorities in New York following a series of unusual money transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The influential international group […] has attracted the attention of Elliot Spitzer, the New York state attorney general, who is making informal inquiries into the transfers ordered by Rabbi Israel Singer, the president of the WJC since 1985. It is possible his office could order a full-scale inquiry.


The investigation by Mr Spitzer’s office is reportedly focussing on payments ordered by Rabbi Singer between October 2002 to February last year. In that five-month period he ordered the transfer of $1.2m (£630,000) of the WJC’s funds to a numbered bank account in a bank in Geneva. The staff in its Geneva office said they were not aware of such an account.



By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
01 January 2005
© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


New chapter in Holocaust justice

A Jewish family is fighting a legal battle with L’Oreal to receive compensation for property lost to Nazis.

PARIS — Like many offspring of Holocaust survivors, Monica Waitzfelder, a Paris opera director, learned only the barest details about her family’s history.

She knew her mother, Edith Rosenfelder, had fled the Nazis not once, but twice. She knew her grandmother had been murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp and that her grandfather had died in a refugee camp.

And she knew her mother believed that L’Oreal, the French cosmetics giant, stole her home in Karlsruhe, Germany.

This last bit of history — or lore, depending on whom you ask — is the basis of a book Ms. Waitzfelder has just published: “L’Oreal A Pris Ma Maison,” (L’Oreal Took My House).

It’s also the subject of an unprecedented legal suit her family has filed against the company — an action that puts her at the center of a painful debate in France about the country’s role in the Nazi’s systematic effort to destroy Jews and strip them of their possessions. Indeed, the case is forcing France, which once prided itself on being a nation of resisters, to face difficult questions about its involvement with Nazi activity.


“In 1936, my grandfather came to Paris because he said it was no longer possible to live [in Germany] as a Jew,” says Waitzfelder, sitting in the chic Café Beaubourg in Paris.

The Rosenfelders, she explains, were a wealthy family with prime real estate in the town of Karlsruhe. But by 1936, her grandfather, Fritz, was investigating how to get his family out of Germany. Once in Paris, he granted power of attorney to a German citizen, who then sold his home in Karlsruhe to a German insurance company. The agreement, signed in 1937, and the subsequent sale in 1938 for 12 percent of its appraised value, she says, was coerced. “My grandfather was forced to give the house in exchange for the life of his wife and his daughter,” Waitzfelder says.

This type of forced sale was a “frequent and common practice,” says Martin Dean, a scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

In 1943, the 18 Allied countries signed an agreement nullifying coercive sales like the one signed by Waitzfelder’s grandfather. But after the war, according to Waitzfelder, apparently no one contacted the surviving members of the Rosenfelder family, and no one came forward to claim the house. At the end of the 1940s, a representative of L’Oreal’s German affiliate optioned to buy the house and finally did so in 1954.

From 1954 until 1991, L’Oreal’s German corporate headquarters was located on the Rosenfelder’s land. The family seeks 30 million euros ($41 million) from L’Oreal, accusing it of knowingly purchasing, and profiting from, stolen property.

In a company statement, L’Oreal “vigorously rejects” the allegations. It has also provided a detailed timeline to establish the company’s innocence.

L’Oreal officials maintain that they received permission from Edith’s uncle for the sale — a fact the family disputes. They also say that the family was compensated by a Jewish restitution organization. But Waitzfelder says the money was never received.


www.csmonitor.com | Copyright © 2004 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.


Sarah Wildman
Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Holocaust Survivors Strike Deal With US

Jewish survivors of the Holocaust have closed yet another chapter in a unique case, in which not Germany but the US was the side charged. The US was not quick to come clean in the “Hungarian gold train” affair.

After years of litigation, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and US officials have agreed to settle a suit over gold, silver, art and other valuables stolen by the Nazis and confiscated by the US after World War II.


“This settlement is not about restituting money, it’s about restituting history,” said Gideon Taylor, vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. “This is a moral step by the US to acknowledge the past.”

For some survivors, the case has left a bitter taste in their mouth. One plaintiff, Irene Tibor, 82, said she does not know how much her family lost when they were evicted from their Budapest apartment. She added that she does not understand why the US gives “everything to old enemies – even enemies” but not to the “poor old people” living in Miami.



Author DW staff/AFP (jdk)
www.dw-world.de © Deutsche Welle