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Memorandum & Update on Restitution matters
European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) delegation meetings in Washington - New York, October 1999 
by Michel Montreuil - 12.11.99 

Composition of ECJC delegation 
ECJC position on Restitution 
Consultations with US government officials (Washington, 26.10.99) 
Mr. J.D. Bindenagel - US Senior envoy on Restitution matters  
Mr. Neil Sher - Chief of Staff, Insurance Commission 
Meeting with the Claims Conference (New York, 27.10.99) 
WJRO Meeting (New York, 28.10.99)  
General discussion on WJRO functioning 
Presentation of the Swiss Bank Settlement - Gideon Taylor 
Presentation of the Insurance Commission - Israel Singer 
Meeting with Special Master Judah Gribetz (New York, 29.10.99) 
Meetings with other WJRO member organizations and with AJC - Bnai Brith International (Washington, 26.10.99) 
The US Gathering of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust (New York, 27.10.99)  
Agudath Israel (New York, 27.10.99)  
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (New York, 27.10.99)  
Conference of Presidents (New York, 29.10.99) 
American Jewish Committee (New York, 29.10.99) 
Outlook on the Slave/Forced Labor issue 
Outlook on the Insurance Claims issue


On the basis of the ECJC resolution on Restitution adopted in Riga on 10 October, and in order to ensure a proper and fair representation of European Jewry positions and interests at the WJRO meeting in New York on 28 October, the Board of ECJC decided to form a delegation. This delegation was given the mandate to meet with US government officials as well as other WJRO member organizations, in order to collect as much information as possible as well as to present the ECJC views on the Restitution process. 

Composition of ECJC delegation 

The ECJC delegation was constituted of Cobi Benatoff (President), Boris Khait (Vice President), Albert Hagouel (Treasurer), Michel Montreuil (Executive Director), Gregory Krupnikov (ECJC Restitution Committee), Anne Webber (co-chair, European Commission on Looted Art) and Aba Dunner (Executive Director, Conference of European Rabbis). 

ECJC position on Restitution 

The Shoah was essentially the effort and attempt to destroy the 20 century old European Jewry. This attempt failed, and it is vital that today's European Jewry, reunited and 3 million strong, be given this definitive opportunity to deny Hitler's objective of a Jew-less Europe by: 
- Reestablishing the truth on what happened in the various European countries 
- Restore its own dignity and history 
- Reclaim a significant part of the communal assets it had developed over the centuries, as well as of the heirless properties which belong to the whole Jewish people. 
Considering the above, ECJC clearly states the following principles which it believes should govern any future allocation of funds: 
a- Every effort should be made to ensure that assets that can be identified as having belonged to an individual should be restituted to that person or his/her heirs. 
b- Funds should primarily address the needs of survivors and victims of the Holocaust. 
c- Funds should also be made available for Jewish communal purposes, in which the needs of Jewish communities in Europe, themselves survivors, should be addressed. 
d- In all these processes, the needs of other victims of Nazi persecution should be addressed. 
ECJC has a strong and representative constituency in Europe, whose aim is to strengthen Jewish life. Strong expectations arose in the Nice GA, to which ECJC has now the challenge to respond. European Jews have recently shown a confidence in their ability to work and solve problems together, and a willingness to be treated as equal partners to Israel & US Jewry. 

On Restitution, we would like to work all together, under any given umbrella. However, a joint approach means a shared approach. In this respect, ECJC is not satisfied, because so far there has been little or no information on the local and national level in Europe. European Jewish leaders too often have learned news from the media. 

Our ambition is to work in cooperation with the rest of the Jewish world, provided the European realities and needs are taken into account. 

Consultations with US government officials (Washington, 26.10.99)  
1. Mr. J.D. Bindenagel - US Senior envoy on Restitution matters 
2. Mr. Neil Sher - Chief of Staff, Insurance Commission 

1. Mr. J.D. Bindenagel - US Senior envoy on Restitution matters  
Thanks to the hospitality of Rabbi Andy Baker, Director of European Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, the ECJC held a first meeting Mr. Bindenagel, in Washington, DC. Mr. Bindenagel initially offered a comprehensive overview of the various Restitution processes currently at work (see address of Amb. Eizenstat to the US Banking Committee attached, and the outlook on main negotiations below). 

Mr. Benatoff thanked him for this informative update. 
He then went on to present the ECJC position, and exposed the following points: 
ECJC is a provider of services to the Jewish Communities in Europe, though its Thematic and Regional activities, and recently in the framework of its GA. 
On Restitution, there have been a considerable lack of information in Europe, and the ECJC is eager to collect information in order to: 
Report to its constituents; 
Prepare European Jewry to have a role in the allocation and distribution of future funds 
Guarantee that resources will be put aside for Jewish Education in Europe, in order to perpetuate a living memory of the Holocaust 
ECJC wishes to express its appreciation to the US Administration for its leading role in the processes to bring back justice and dignity. 
Mr. Bindenagel expressed its full understanding and appreciation for the European involvement and position. 
It was agreed that the Stockholm Conference on 26-28 January 2000, organized by the Swedish government with the participation of other governments, and devoted to the memory and education of the Holocaust, should have some representation of NGOs, and that Jewish Communities in Europe and the ECJC should maybe push for this. 
Lastly, Mr. Boris Khait raised the issue of Russian archives, which after 55 years of secrecy are still very difficult to access or prey to commercially-driven research. 
 2. Mr. Neil Sher - Chief of Staff, Insurance Commission  
Mr. Sher welcomed the ECJC delegation, and listened attentively to the presentation of ECJC position on the Restitution matters by Mr. Benatoff. 
The Insurance Commission (for details, see outlook on main negotiations below) is leading a claims driven process, which will include a major information and outreach program in the US, Israel and also Europe by the end of 1999, early 2000. 
It is therefore of importance for the Insurance Commission to have lots of relationships with Jewish organizations in order to reach as many potential claimants as possible. 
Significant progress has already been achieved: 
The Commission is prepared to publish the names of potential policyholders; 
It has agreed that the insurance companies will bear the cost of claims processing; 
The valuation process for the payment of the Holocaust era insurance policies has been finalized, with a factor 10 to the initial face value; 
Claims can be based on as little as anecdotal evidence. Once such a relationship is established, the burden of proofs shifts to the insurance companies; 
If there is no clue on the value of the policy, an average value of policies at that time can be retained for settlement; 
If a company denies the claim, then an appeal process exists for the claimant. 
The next round of negotiations is to take place in December 1999. 
So far, around 500 claims have been filed, of which some were offered a payment for settlement for amounts varying between $1,000 and $76,000. 
For heirless properties a Humanitarian Fund will be set up, although it is a rather complicated issue. 
Key issues 
The 5 insurance companies which are part of the commission had a combined market share at the time of 25-30%; 
Other insurance companies are attempted to be drawn in. It has been neither easy nor succesful so far 
On the general Restitution issue, Mr. Sher, a former AIPAC top executive, identified as ECJC bottom line objectives to sit on both WJRO and Claims Conference (CC) Allocations Committees. 
He expressed the possibility for an ECJC representative to sit on the Insurance Commission as an observer, on behalf of the CC. 
According to him, the key Jewish players in this negotiation are I. Singer, G. Taylor, B. Meed, M. Sanbar and B. Brown. 

Meeting with the Claims Conference (New York 27.10.99)  
Cobi Benatoff: We want to sit in the Claims Conference and in the WJRO allocation committee: How do we solve this? 
Elan Steinberg: You are on the WJRO executive. 
Boris Khait: European Jewry reunited must be recognized. 
Gideon Taylor: After a brief presentation of the various negotiations to which the CC is party (Slave/Forced Labor, Austria, Insurance Commission), GT went into some specifics with regard to 
1. German compensation payments to Survivors: 
- 45 to 60,000 people are going to get these pensions, who either spent 6 months in a camp or 18 months hiding or in a ghetto. 
These compensation payments only apply below a certain income 
It has a diminishing effect in Europe because it does not apply to countries which had bilateral agreements with Germany. 
2. Heirless German properties 
Out of the total amount of properties in Eastern Germany, 70% is going back to the heirs, while 30-35% is sold and the proceeds go to the Goodwill fund. 
So far $260m have been allocated, and about the same remains to be allocated. 
Allocation Program 
From this German Restitution Fund, about 80% is allocated to Social welfare programs to Holocaust Survivors. So far $23m have gone to the Chessadim centers in the FSU, for a population that is more flight cases than Survivors. 
The remaining 20% are allocated for Research, Documentation and Education on the Holocaust. Programs like the March of the Living and programs in Western Europe operated  by ECJC member organizations are examples of allocations. 
CC Planning Committee 
This committee will have to define: 
A strategy for the CC 
Recommendations to the Board with regard to the many membership applications to the organization. 
Gregory Krupnikov: Who are the Europeans in this Planning Committee. Why not involve ECJC? 
GT: I don't know. 
Cobi Benatoff: CC was not open and transparent for so many years that today the pressure from the base in Europe in tremendous. It is not enough to say that CC is changing. 
We, ECJC,  need today to provide information and to see measures that will restore a confidence that was broken. 
GT: I am eager to build some kind of ECJC representation in the CC Board. 
Since then, Cobi Benatoff has been appointed to the CC Planning Committee. 

Elan Steinberg: An arising issue is the expanding scope of Restitution beyond the Jews… to Ukrainians, Poles, Latvians etc… 
We have to fight to keep the focus and the bulk of Restitution as a Jewish issue. 
Out of the $170m Swiss Goodwill Fund: 
$32m to the US 
$60m to Israel 
$60m to Europe, where only a 10th of Survivors related to Israel's numbers live. 
Perception is not necessarily corresponding to reality. Eagerness of WJC and CC to have perception catch up with reality. 

WJRO Meeting (New York, 28.10.99)  
1. General discussion on WJRO functionning 
Presentation of the Swiss Bank Settlement - Gideon Taylor 
Presentation of the Insurance Commission - Israel Singer 

General discussion on WJRO functioning  
Israel Singer: This meeting is a key opportunity to comment and amend the WJRO functioning. Open to questions. 
There is a great concern to have representation from all places, not based on demographic balance. WJRO, as such a disparage body, didn't make many mistakes, and achieved many successes. 
Doubts about whether US court room is the best place to do Jewish justice. Those who go to Special Master Gribetz should be aware that they're doing harm to themselves and to the Judge. 
Urge to do whatever you believe inside WJRO, among the Jewish people. Appeal all o come to a common conclusion. 
Principle in WJRO: each group has an equally rated voice. 
Rolf Bloch: From the outside, process with Gribetz is seen as non transparent. This creates anxiety and concern. 
Richard Prasquier (CRIF, EJC): Because of total lack of information, we are not prepared to play any intermediary role. 
Dunner: Issue of total lack of clarity of the claims process sent to the individual claimants (notification process). 
Need for series of meetings, need for thorough follow up. To whom do we address our ideas and suggestions? 
IS: We'll have a next WJRO within the next 3 months. We'll also have conference calls involving one representative from every organisations. 
Cobi Benatoff: In the past, European Jewish communities felt left out with no information on Restitution. That was all the more regrettable as the Shoah happened in Europe. 
Our position is a unitarian one. This is either a tremendous opportunity, or a disgrace if we squabble about money. ECJC has now an agreement with the EJC for a single, common body to speak in the name of Europe. 
We understand these are heroic moments, and we have deep appreciation for what was done by the WJRO. 
We also understand that from now on, WJRO will hold more ordinate meetings, with advance notice and an agenda. 
With regard to the proposed WJRO plan of allocation, ECJC agrees with the different categories and priorities set up. 
On the issue of Education and memory, Shoah was the tentative to eradicate Jewish life in Europe. There is today a Jewish life, and J.C. in Europe want to continue and strengthen Jewish life. 
We see this Restitution process as a tremendous opportunity to train and to educate. 
The memory of the Holocaust will be served best by educated Jewish youth. This will serve better than museums, and will truly strengthen Jewish life, culture and traditions. 
I.S.: Thanked ECJC for its participation and community of interests. Europe was not left out: it is important to remember that Ignatz Bubis was the European player in this process, and his loss is immeasurable. 
Ben Fishoff (Agudath Israel): With regard to this last category of the settlement on Education and memory, there is a committee of 6 in the WJRO, which will be in charge of discussing and allocating the funds. 
Expresses his willingness, as a member of this committee, to guarantee & protect Jewish Education in due time. 
B. Brown (Israeli Administration): Many parties are trying to split the Jewish people and the Israeli government. Unsuccessfully so far, and WJRO remains the widest and best framework. 
Urges the WJRO partners: 
To have patience for the multi-faceted WJRO 
To remember that nobody can convey the situation and tactics going on in all 17 commissions. 
Finally asked Mr. Singer to increase the communication going out from WJRO offices. 
Michael Schneider: Anxiety about the past not to be placed in front of I. Singer. Don't believe any tactical or strategical mistakes were made, only lack of communication. 
3 comments or questions: 
Technology such as video-conferencing could well replace some meetings 
Board meetings should be held only with accredited representation of the board members, as required by the constitution. 
Unclarity about limits of responsibilities of the WJRO offices towards the WJRO board. Need to define what is to be endorsed by the board vs. operational autonomy of the offices. 
Could WJRO establish a sub-committee to come up with 'Who does what?' 
I.S.: The President will appoint a sub committee to come up with such recommendations. 
From now on, the information office for the WJRO will be the Claims Conference. 

Presentation on the Swiss Bank settlement - Gideon Taylor 
In agreement with previous comments that the notification program is inappropriate for Survivors. The Claims Conference (CC) submitted a case against this, which was overruled by the Judge. 
To date, 400,000 people have filled in the questionnaires. 
The main dates are: 
Final fairness hearing on the settlement: 29 November 1999 
Proposed plan of allocation finalized by the S.M. Gribetz: 28 December 1999 
Comments can be made on this publicized proposal until: 28 February 2000 
Final plan go to court for approval: 28 April 2000 

The Settlement agreement defines 5 categories of claimants: 
The Swiss bank account holders 
The owners of  looted assets 
Slave laborers of German companies which had Swiss accounts 
Slave laborers of Swiss companies and subsidiaries 
Refugees who were turned back at the Swiss borders. 
And in all 5 categories, their heirs. 
These people are estimated to be 800,000 - their heirs are estimated to be 2 million people. 
After payment of these 5 categories, there is a plan to allocate the remaining monies, under the recommendation of the WJRO Allocation Committee (so called 'Committee of 6', enlarged to 8): 
Cobi Benatoff (ECJC), 
Bobby Brown (Israeli Administration), 
Ben Fishoff (Agudath Israel), 
Noah Flug (Israeli Survivors), 
Zvi Ramot (Jewish Agency), 
Michael Schneider (AJJDC), 
Eli Spanic (WJRO), 
Gideon Taylor (CC). 
Such a recommendation calls for the remaining funds to be allocated as such: 
55% for direct payments to Survivors (people who lived in a country at a tim when it was under Nazi regime, under Nazi occupation or under the regime of Nazi collaborators) 
This direct cash payment should be implemented by the WJRO under the mechanism used for the Swiss Fund for Needy Victims. 
25% for Social services to Victims (same categories as in 1. as well as people who fled persecution) 
The services should be implemented by the WJRO, utilizing the CC. 
20% in the Memory of the Holocaust 
Allocations should be made long term for: 
Commemoration programs of the Holocaust 
Holocaust-related Research 
Democracy and Tolerance oriented Education 
Teaching Jewish Culture and Heritage 
Continuation of Jewish Life and Culture ensuring Jewish Survival 
The project should be implemented by a special mechanism to be established for this purpose. 
This proposal made by the WJRO will be examined by the Judge, but he will be free to make any decision taking into account the different proposals made to him. 

Comments on Gideon Taylor's presentation 
David Zwiebel (Agudath Israel): WJRO has been extremely helpful in achieving consensus on the proposal made. 
However there may be different senses of priority for individual members of WJRO. They should be able to emphasize these in the proposal to be presented. 
Suggestion to postpone the WJRO presentation of its plan to the end of November in order to allow for review, comment and suggestions, and to add individual statements within the general WJRO framework proposal. 
Anne Webber: Wants to raise the awareness that potential claimants on looted art could be deprived of their rights. 
Requests WJRO to exclude looted art from proposed settlement. 
I.S.: Whatever individual application a WJRO member organization makes, should be done within the WJRO general plan. 
G.T. on concluding the discussion 
OK on the opinion of Anne Webber to exclude looted art from the settlement; 
OK on having Jewish Communities and organizations file their individual claims within the general WJRO plan. 
Finally, the assumption used to define the percentages of the WJRO plan was that there will be a very significant sum of money. 
Let us have a decision by the judge, and according to this WJRO may review its position and change its own proposal. 

Presentation on the Insurance Commission - Israel Singer  
Introduction by Bobby Brown: There is a discussion to link the German Humanitarian Fund (Slave and Forced Labor) and the Insurance Claims process, in order not to give any negotiating advantage to German companies over Insurance companies. 
The 5 participating insurance companies would represent 30-35% of the global market share of that period. 
Allianz, with a 13% market share at that time, offered DM 150m. 
Generali offered $100m. 
Israel Singer estimates that the combined Insurance Claims and German Humanitarian Fund could reach $500m. 
But the process is not just about money. Not to underestimate the fact that all the documents are being input in Yad Vashem, in order to restore Jewish History. 
The payments will have to come with a letter of apologies in both cases, with the German companies as much as with the Insurance companies. 
We want them: 
to tell the truth 
to open their files 
to apologize for the money they give back 
Cobi Benatoff: How about getting the other Insurance companies (2/3 of the market then) into the process? 
I.S.: Prodi is interested to get other Insurance comapnies to close this on a moral note. 

Meeting with Special Master Judah Gribetz (New York, 29.10.99)  
On Communal proposals 
On Looted Art 
On Swiss bank account holders 

Judah Gribetz: "Swiss Banks requested the written endorsement of the WJRO member organisations to the settlement, this waives all further claims against Swiss Banks. 
CB: Settlement agreement has created a lot of expectations. 
JG: Law suit is governed by US jurisprudence of class-action. Courts are concerned by fairness & equal tratment. Notification has created expectations, 200,000 questionnaires were submitted. 
CB: Can communities identify to some category, and therefore have a right to claim, within the WJRO proposed plan of allocation: 
Looted communal property 
Looted heirless property 
As of 27 October, 147 comments on the settlement had been received by the Claims administrator in San Francisco. Also, non-Jewish groups, Jehovah witnesses and 2 European Romani groups have come to meet with Gribetz. 
JG intends to draft a plan of allocation sooner rather than later. This will probably be appealed, and in order to unblock the monies, JG intends to resort to the Swiss 'Good will' fund, although less than half of the money has been allocated so far. 
2. On communal proposals 
CB: What would be a better presentation - under ECJC presentation or individually? 
JG: Not important, as long as it contains analysis and meaningfulness. Substance is what counts. 
CB: ECJC should coordinate & bring added value to the body of proposals. 
Would we have to put a number of community proposals that would be presented? 
JG: Do what you think is best. Bring me your ideas and advice. 
GK: Do communities fit into the description of 'group of people'? 
JG: There are 3 categories: 
Survivors (camps, slave laborers, owners of looted assets) - estimated 800,000 persons 
Heirs (swiss banks want the broadest definition possible) - estimated 2 million persons 
Heirless cases, to be allocated for teaching & education - who represent them? 
CB: J.C. in Europe have a direct claim to looted communal property 
J.C. also are heirs to heirless private properties which were european. 
GK: Is there a need to prove that looted communal property could have ended up in Switzerland? 
JG: Possibility exist to interpret that any looted asset would/could have somehow ended up in Switzerland. However, to the difference of other classes, the cost of establishing this evidence and defining its legitimacy would have to be deducted from the $1.25 bn, or paid for directly. The Swiss banks will not pay for administration related to this category. 
MM: On plan for Jewish Education, who is supposed to speaking for the heirless assets and to manage the allocation of funds that could be set aside for this? 
JG: I would presume that JDC is sophisticated enough to look for partners. 
GK: What about flight cases? 
JG: Aware of that. People have gotten checks for 50 years every month while others, who are in real need, never received anything. 

On Looted Art 
Anne Webber addressed this issue by pointing out that under the current proposed agreement, owners of Jewish cultural properties which could currently be in Switzerland, would be prevented from claiming back any of their assets if the agreement is approved as such. 
In line with this, the European Commission on Looted Art, the ECJC related organization, has decided to opt out of the proposed Swiss Bank settlement on behalf of all the owners of looted art who would have not realized the implications of the settlement. 
Judah Gribetz thanked Anne Webber for her deep knowledge of the Looted Art issue and its related implications to the proposed Swiss Bank Settlement. He confirmed his new awareness to the problem the settlement represents for looted art and other cultural properties 
A.W.: What are your views on the looted art issue nonetheless? 
JG: If the settlement is not approved as such, we may expose ourselves to Federal courts turning down the validity of a new class action suit. 
This being said, I assume that somebody who had real assets should have opted out. I hope that Judge Korman, listening to Prof. Neuborne at the fairness hearings, will exclude Art from the settlement. 
In which case the Swiss banks could appeal. 
A.W.: would there be a possibility to establish ECLA as the administrator of claims on looted cultural property, which would be paid for from the $1.25 bn? 
JG: Check with Prof. Neuborne what would be the best course of advice. 

4. On Swiss bank account holders 
JG: This is the easiest case to deal with. A rate of 10 to 1 has been established for the payment to Swiss bank account holders. 
Something which is more a feeling that established facts, JG feels the need to raise the possibility that many more accounts are being discovered by the Commission of Eminent Persons, chaired by Mr. Paul Volcker (the Volcker Commission). 
The Volcker Commission is discussing to date 5,570 bank accounts. However, Mr. Volcker's counsel, Michael Bradfield has mentionned that currently 50,000 bank accounts are being crossed between victims and Swiss banks, while another 50,000 bank accounts have closed in the profit of the banks. 
There is no possible valuation to be made at this point. In any case, since the priority and preference is on bank accounts  The more accounts are being discovered, the more value this first part of the settlement gets. 
Therefore, as many more accounts could be discovered, the initial estimates for the Swiss bank account holders payments could be much higher than expected. 

Meetings with other WJRO member organizations and with AJC  
Bnai Brith International (Washington, 26.10.99)  

Bnai Brith International is a founding member of the Claims Conference and of WJRO. 
The ECJC delegation met with Richard Heideman, President, Dan Mariaschin, Director and George Spectre, Associate Director. 
After a welcome and brief presentation of BB Inthernational and its new merging in one single lodge in Europe by Mr Heideman, Mr Mariaschin went on to detail BBI involvement with WJRO. 
BBI is open to the interests of the Europeans, it has because of its historical presence in europe, a European sensitivity. 
Dan Mariaschin then asked the question of the relation between ECJC and the WJC and European Jewish Congress (EJC). 
Cobi Benatoff answered in saying that we have had so far nice words from the WJC, and that the past relationship ECJC had with Igntaz Bubis was a great asset, lost with his death. 
The pressure ECJC received from the communities to move on the Restitution issue has led to decide and leave seats open for the European Jewish Congress to join a process which ECJC wants unified, whenever ready and willing. 
D.M.: For the CC and the WJRO, the ECJC is a different kind of animal to deal with than individual Eastern European communities. 
CB: The very concept of WJRO is good we believe. Understanding that there is a lot of day-to-day business, but a more consultative process is needed. 
Agreement of BBI. 
CB: Recognition of E. Bronfman and I. Singer central roles does not prevent us from wanting to regularize and intensify WJRO meetings and consultations at a crucial time, while many negotiations are coming closer to resolution. 
Boris Khait then addressed the special case of Russia. 
90% of Jewish property was confiscated by Soviet rule before WW2, and Restitution has yet to happen. 
Need for a pressure on the Russian Government to reclaim Jewish Communal properties, as Restitution works for the Orthodox Church. 
In conclusion, Dan Mariaschin expressed his interest to be invited to any future ECJC meeting, and expressed his thanks to ECJC for invigorating the US-Europe relationship. 

The US Gathering of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust (New York, 27.10.99)  

The US Gathering of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust is a member of the Claims Conference and of the WJRO. 
Ben Meed, President and Max Liebmann, Treasurer welcomed the ECJC delegation. 
After a presentation of the Gathering, which has a 165,000 strong and extremely detailed and updated membership, Ben Meed explained that initially he was opposed to the principle of German reparations but had to change his mind over the years. The US Gathering was intended to act nationally, but has lately been pulled into the international scene. 
Lastly, they all feel Europeans, not only by birth but also by culture. 
Cobi Benatoff: On fundings for the memory of the Holocaust as defined in the WJRO plan, ECJC believes that the most important transmitters of this Memory are the young Jewishly educated people. 
Therefore the need for Quality Education, for trained Rabbis etc… 
Ben Meed: Survivors understand the need for Jewish Education. I will try to transmit this message to my leadership. 
Presented with the ECJC Resolution on Restitution, Mr. Meed went on to add: 
I agree with almost everything you wrote. I come from Yiddishkeit, a higher Jewish culture that is from Europe. 
Today, nobody talks about the sufferings of the Jewish Survivors. 
We came to share with non-Jewish Survivors, whom most were on Forced Labor. We, Jewish Survivors, were less than Slaves, we were less than Human Beings. 
We might be facing a situation where we could get less than expected, because we decided to share with non-Jewish miserable people. Selling this to our constituency is an issue, as we were unique in our sufferings. 
On the money issue: before we knew we were discussing Jewish matters. Now a war might start. Need to get rid of the image of money distributed to the Jews. Nobody 'gives' us money, this money is only returned, too little, often too late. 
In conclusion, agrees that some groups may get more , provided it is based on truthful facts and figures. 
Suggests that European Jewry sell and package its case. 

Agudath Israel (New York, 27.10.99)  

Agudath Israel World Organization is a member of the Claims Conference and of the WJRO. 
The ECJC delegation met with Abe Bidermann, Agudath Israel representative in the CC and the WJRO. 
Mr. Bidermann explained that the Planning Committee of the Claims Conference is to meet 3 times before July 2000, at which time it will issue a recommendation on new memberships to the CC. 
Most groups within the CC are sympathetic to the ECJC as a future member. 
In the CC, applications for funding of specific projects can be made twice a year. January 2000 is the next round of applications, which are to be decided upon in April 2000. 

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (New York, 27.10.99)  

The American Jewish Joint Distribution is a founding member of the Claims Conference and of the WJRO. 
The ECJC delegation met with Michael Schneider, Executive Vice President of the JDC. 
After expressing his satisfaction for the historical and continued support of JDC to ECJC, Mr. Benatoff went on to explain the new realities of European Jewry and to detail the ECJC agenda. Cobi Benatoff, speaking on the current series of meetings, expressed the satisfaction of his delegation at having found interested and listening partners within the WJRO 
Michael Schneider expressed the intention of JDC to remain an enabling rather than a dominating factor in its relationship with ECJC, a relationship which he hopes can develop into an equal partnership as soon as possible. 
Talking about the Swiss Bank Settlement, Michael Schneider expressed his hopes that the funds the WJRO plan to allocate for Social Welfare services will go to preserve the Chessadim Programs in the FSU. 
On the 20% the WJRO plans for Jewish Education and in memory of the Holocaust, he predicts some controversies between the various agencies that are active in Jewish Education. 

Conference of Presidents (New York, 29.10.99)  

Leading a group of leaders from the Conference of Presidents, Mr. Malcom Hoenlein welcomed the ECJC delegation. 
He expressed the interest of the Conference of Presidents to see that the need for European Jewish Communities to affect European Union political as well as Educational, Social and Cultural policies be more actively addressed from Europe. 
He finally commended the new growth of ECJC, which is welcomed as US Jewry is in need for strong partners on a pan European level. 

American Jewish Committee (New York, 29.10.99)  

The last meeting of the ECJC delegation took place at the NY offices of the AJC, with on AJC side David Harris, Executive Director, Andy Baker, Director of European Affairs, Ralph Grunewald, Ass. Exec. Director for Policy and Programs & Steven Bayme, Director of the Department of Jewish Communal Affairs. 
The ECJC members thanked the AJC team both for being so instrumental in setting some of the meetings in Washington and New York, and on a lighter tone for so kindly treating the delegation to an opening breakfast in Washington and a closing lunch in New York. 
A detailed discussion followed on the results of these meetings, the need for thorough follow up on the various decisions reached and the importance in having a better recognition of the European contribution to the overall Restitution processes. 
The discussion then addressed the various areas in Education and other Jewish Communal policies where AJC and ECJC could best cooperate. A follow up between staff people will take place in the next weeks to define a possible agenda for joint activities for the year 2000. 
It was finally decided to take advantage of the AJC consultation on Property Restitution in Europe (Prague, 14 November) to hold a parallel meeting of the ECJC Restitution Committee, and so allow for the maximum interaction between both meetings and their participants. 

Outlook on the main negotiations on Restitution  
(based on Amb. Eizenstat testimony) Slave & Forced Labor 

This process aims at obtaining payment for those who were forcibly compelled to perform slave and forced labor during the Holocaust.  In fact, the vast majority of those compelled to work for the Nazis who still survive are not Jews, but Eastern European Christians from countries overrun by Hitler’s forces in the early years of World War II. 
Both German industry and government have stated their intent to do justice for this last large group of individuals not covered by any past or current German compensation program. 
US involvement started in 1998, when the German government ask for help to find a resolution between class action claimants who had filed suit in U.S. courts for wages and damages arising from slave and forced labor during the Nazi era and 16 defendant German corporations. The German companies, recognizing their moral responsibility for the behavior of private companies during the Nazi era, proposed to establish a foundation which would provide payment to those who were forced to work for private industry as well as those who were victims of other actions during the Nazi era in which German companies participated. The German government, in support of its companies, has proposed to establish a government foundation, which would compensate many others who were forced to work for the Nazi state who might not be covered by the private sector foundation. 
These German proposals are currently the subject of intensive discussion in plenary and working groups chaired by Count Lambsdorff (Germany) and Stuart Eizenstat (US deputy Treasury Secretary).  The Participants are: 
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany 
Five Central and East European Governments (Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia) and the German-financed Reconciliation Foundations located in these countries 
the Israeli government 
a number of plaintiffs' attorneys representing former laborers in class action lawsuits in U.S. courts 
representatives of German corporations currently supporting the foundation, and 
the German and U.S. Governments. 
 By late August, discussions on the administrative and legal aspects were far enough advanced for the issue of payment levels to be discussed. 
An initial offer of DM 6 bn was made by the German companies in October, that was turned down by the plaintiff's attorneys as insufficient. 
Following Count Lambsdorff  publicly campaigning for increased German industry participation in the industry foundation, and as a result of Chancellor Schroeder's personal commitment to the process, the later anounced in September that 35 German companies were now willing to join the industry foundation, more than double the original 16. 

Key Issues in the Slave/Forced Labor Talks 
The fundamental trade-off for German industry is to grant a reasonable amount of payment to former forced/slave industrial workers in return for what they have termed "legal peace" i.e. an end to lawsuits on the subject. If agreement can be reached on payment levels, and if the participants in this process agree to establishment of the private foundation and a federal foundation, the US Department of Justice would file a "Statement of Interest" in future lawsuits brought in US Courts against German companies according to which the private foundations would be recommanded as the exclusive remedy for future claimants who could utilize it. If asked by the court, the US Department of Justice would indicate that dismissal of such suits is consistent with U.S. policy. Such statements by US Government in open court are extremely rare. 
As regards the German government foundation (the public foundation), and in order to obtain the support of the Central and Eastern European Governments participating in this process, which is necessary for moral, political and legal reasons, it is essential that this foundation offer as broad coverage as possible, so as to include workers who were relocated from their homes and forced to work for the Nazi regime. 
There are two main reasons to support a negotiated settlement rather than trial. First, the age of the survivors -- now averaging around 80 years -- necessitates a quick solution.  Second, the number of victims who would be covered by the two German foundations would be much greater than those covered by the lawsuits pending in US Courts.  Thus, justice will be better served if agreement can be reached to establish the German foundations, rather than put Holocaust victims at risk in uncertain and lengthy litigation. 
Outlook on the Insurance Claims issue  

The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, created in November 1998, has been charged with establishing a just process that will address the issue of unpaid insurance policies issued to victims of the Holocaust. 
Under the leadership of former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, the Commission has achieved significant progress in creating a claims-based process to pay outstanding insurance claims in the lifetimes of Holocaust survivors.  The International Commission includes five leading European insurance companies: Allianz, Generali, AXA, Zurich, and Winterthur, representatives of international Jewish survivor and other Jewish organizations, U.S. and European insurance regulators, and the State of Israel. Under Chairman Eagleburger, a fact-based effort to resolve Holocaust insurance claims promptly and fairly is being negotiated. The objective is to provide expeditious resolution of insurance claims without resorting to lengthy litigation that would delay payment to survivors. 
The International Commission is making significant progress in resolving a complex set of issues which includes valuation of policies, independent audit review, and the waiver of the statute of limitations. It will establish a help line for claimants. It has designed a non-bureaucratic claims process and relaxed set of standards of proof. It is prepared to publish the names of potential policyholders; has agreed that the insurance companies will bear the cost of claims processing; and proposed establishment of a humanitarian fund. 
Chairman Eagleburger expects to have the claims settlement system in place in the near future.  The International Commission's blueprint for settling Holocaust-era insurance claims is now in the final round of negotiations. Once the claims process is in place, we expect that the legal and the claims process will be merged. 
The US Administration supports Chairman Eagleburger's and the Commission's efforts to bring justice to Holocaust survivors through the establishment of a fair claims process. Recently the, Belgian, Czech, and Polish governments joined the German, French, Israeli and Italian governments in participating in the Commission. 
It is broadly agreed that the International Commission is the best vehicle for resolving Holocaust-era insurance claims. The 5 companies' commitment to the Commission, demonstrated by the $90 million escrow fund established at the beginning of the process, and their willingness to negotiate on these difficult issues, has helped make possible the progress to date. 
However all other insurance companies that hold policies from the Holocaust era, and whose market share at the time is estimated to be around 65-70%, have still to participate in this process. 


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