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51–646 CC






AUGUST 6, 1998

Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations

BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
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CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
JAY KIM, California
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
RICHARD BURR, North Carolina
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
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PAT DANNER, Missouri
BRAD SHERMAN, California
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
LOIS CAPPS, California
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
DEBORAH E. BODLANDER, Professional Staff Member
ALLISON K. KIERNAN, Staff Associate

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    The Honorable Stuart Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State, Bureau of Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs
    The Honorable Avraham Hirschson, MK, Chairman, Knesset Committee on Restitution, and Government of Israel Representative, World Jewish Restitution Organization
    Dr. Israel Singer, Chairman, World Jewish Restitution Organization, and Secretary-General, World Jewish Congress
    Mr. Benjamin Meed, President, American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
Prepared statements:
The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, a Representative in Congress from New York, and Chairman, Committee on International Relations
The Honorable Christopher Smith, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey
The Honorable Stuart Eizenstat plus attachment
Mr. Benjamin Meed
Mr. Franc Izgorsek, President of the Slovenian Association of Nationalized Property ''Violation of Human Rights on Slovenia''
World Jewish Congress ''Looted Jewish Assets: Nazi Seizures''


House of Representatives,
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Committee on International Relations,
Washington, DC.
    The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:14 a.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman (chairman of the Committee) presiding.
    Chairman GILMAN. [presiding] The Committee on International Relations will come to order.
    We're convening a hearing today on heirless property issues of the Holocaust. We're pleased to have the Honorable Stuart Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State, Bureau of Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs with us this morning.
    Under Secretary Eizenstat has been instrumental in advancing the Administration's efforts on behalf of the restitution of Jewish and other communal properties in Central and Eastern Europe. Under Secretary Eizenstat is joined today by three other distinguished individuals: the Honorable Avraham Hirschson is a member of Israel's Knesset who serves as chairman of the Knesset Committee on Restitution, and who represents the Government of Israel to the World Jewish Restitution Organization. Dr. Israel Singer is chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, and Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress. He is a leader in all Holocaust-era asset issues.
    Edger Broneman and Dr. Singer first brought the problem of heirless property to our attention over 3 years ago during a meeting in the Capitol.
    Benjamin Meed, executive director of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors barely needs any introduction whatsoever. Ben is a one-man tour de force whose fierce dedication to the survivors of the Holocaust and whose efforts to perpetuate the memory of those who perished has no parallel.
    Each of our witnesses today has made critical contributions to this least known of Holocaust asset issues. With the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, elements within the American Jewish community reactivated efforts to reclaim property lost and confiscated during the Holocaust. Most of this property, both individual and communal, was seized by Communist Governments after World War II. Examples of communal property are: schools, hospitals, orphanages, synagogues, cemeteries, and any assets that a given community held in common. Communal property is also known principally as ''heirless property'' since the assets in question belong to no single heir. However, heirless property is not merely buildings and lands, since the contents of some buildings, such as synagogues, housed valuable religious items and artwork.
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    In November 1992, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and then-Israeli Minister of Finance Avraham Shohat signed a memorandum in which the State of Israel's special interest in the restitution of Jewish property was established. The memorandum recognized that the State considers itself to be the natural and principal heir to Jewish public property and where there are no other heirs to Jewish private property together with local Jewish communities and Jewish people.
    To formalize the reclamation effort, the World Jewish Restitution Organization, WJRO, was created back in 1993. Members of WJRO are the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the World Zionist Organization, the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, B'nai B'rith International, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, and Israel World Organization.
    There is an agreement between the Government of Israel and the World Jewish Restitution Organization to advance and reach mutual goals. These goals are the return of heirless and unclaimed properties of communities, associations, organizations, and individuals to the Jewish people as the legal heir and successor of the extinguished communities and annihilated people to arrange payment of full compensations in cases where restitution is impossible; and to advance the restitution of private property and compensation to Holocaust survivors. The WJRO also concludes agreements with Jewish communities in order to coordinate restitution efforts, and also claims to secure for individual Jews where the resident in the countries in question are not given the same rights as those of local citizens.
    The World Jewish Congress, acting on behalf of the WJRO, first involved Congress in this issue in early 1995. Soon after, under Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, then serving as our U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, was charged with the responsibility of the issue of heirless property on behalf of the U.S. Government. He has retained that responsibility throughout his tenure in the executive branch.
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    The situation in each country varies, although some governments have demonstrated a tendency to enact legislation that would restrict the rights of Jewish communities to reclaim their property. Some laws are being passed that prevent foreign citizens, and those not domiciled locally, from making claims. Such legislation violates the basic laws of ownership and, in some instances, even of the constitutions of the countries concerned. It also disregards international conventions on human rights to which countries are often signatories.
    In some instances, governments have provided for the restitution of communal religious property but only to communities and churches which have enjoyed an uninterrupted existence since the war. Many who directly and indirectly benefited from plundered Jewish property have opposed returning those assets.
    Accordingly, this hearing will review the status of efforts to reclaim Jewish communal assets in Central and Eastern Europe by our own government, by the Government of Israel, and by the WJRO.
    We want to thank the witnesses as well for their ongoing involvement in other Holocaust asset-related issues, and we look forward also to brief updates on issues such as the upcoming conference on art and insurance in November, and the status of negotiations with the Swiss banks. There are now numerous investigations, both at home and abroad, on a far-reaching set of Holocaust-related asset issues. We hope that today's hearing on heirless property will shed some light on the successes as well as the obstacles, and that our witnesses will be able to suggest some recommendations for action to overcome the obstacles they've uncovered.
    It's extremely important that the countries involved in this issue understand that their response is seen as a measure of their commitment to basic human rights, to justice, to the rule of law, and is one of several standards by which the United States assesses its bilateral relationships. Those who perished, those who survived and their descendants deserve nothing less.
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    I'll now turn to our Ranking Minority Member, Mr. Hamilton, for any opening statement he may have.
    [The prepared statement of Chairman Gilman appears in the appendix.]
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, I'm very pleased that you're having the hearing this morning. You and I had talked about it some months ago. I'm delighted that we now have the opportunity to have it, and I want to join you in welcoming Ambassador Eizenstat before us.
    I also want to say a word of appreciation to my colleague here, Congressman Lantos. Secretary Eizenstat, I noticed in your statement here on page 7 that ''Hungary's approach is a model for Europe,'' and I think all of us should know that Congressman Lantos is responsible for that in many ways, and has been a real leader here and I want to express to him my appreciation for his work.
    Let me just make a couple of comments. I think Secretary Eizenstat has done a marvelous job in approaching this difficult issue of property restitution in Central and Eastern Europe, and I want to express my thanks to him for that work. I hope, Mr. Secretary, that you will keep us informed and let us know how we can be helpful as you move toward the Washington conference later this year, I guess, in November.
    I also want to say that if we're going to get a just and equitable solution to this property restitution issue, which is certainly our goal, then we're going to have to do it, I think, in cooperation with our friends and allies in Europe; and we're going to have to work with them if the Holocaust victims are to get any measure of just compensation which they deserve.
    Finally, I want to say that I think we can reach, even though the difficulties are formidable, a measure of justice for the Jewish people. Time has passed, 50 years have gone by. I think we've made significant strides only in very recent years, but the victims of the Holocaust should not have to wait any longer. So I look forward to our testimony from Mr. Eizenstat, as well as from the distinguished panel of witnesses.
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    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
    Any other Members seeking an opportunity? If not, we'll proceed with our first witness.
    Our first witness this morning is Honorable Stuart Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. He has served the American people with distinction. We certainly welcome him this morning. It was during his service, as I indicated before, as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 1993 to 1996 that Ambassador Eizenstat became thoroughly familiar with the issue of heirless communal property in Central and Eastern Europe.
    Mr. Eizenstat, you may put in your full statement in the record and summarize, or you may proceed in any way you deem appropriate.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to put the full statement in plus a country-by-country analysis of where we stand as an annex. And I particularly want to thank you for holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman, genuinely, and for elevating this very important issue.
    The Holocaust was the greatest crime of this or any other century but it also was the greatest theft, dehumanizing people by depriving them of their possessions, their property, and their institutions. And, therefore, property restitution must be a central element in dealing with this leftover legacy.
    I began, as you indicated, this work in early 1995 and I've traveled to 11 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet time, several on many occasions. Most recently, just 2 weeks ago, to Lithuania and Poland.
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    Interestingly, the property restitution work, which we've undertaken, has spawned work in related areas. Compensation for Holocaust victims is one, and another is an effort now joined by over a dozen countries who have established historical truth commissions to search for truth and to come to terms with their role in World War II.
    The thread that connects each of these activities: property restitution, compensation for victims, and the historic search for truth is the coming to terms with history and acting upon it to produce a measure of justice for those who have suffered most as we end the 20th century and begin a new millennium.
    On the first of these, Mr. Chairman, property restitution. Property claims are divisible into three major categories: communal, that is, those that were owned by religious communities, Christian and Jewish; private property; and heirless property. With respect to each of these it is our view that due process was not done, quite obviously, by the Nazis and thereafter by the Communists after the war and that that property or some reasonable compensation for it should be returned to individuals or to communities from which it was stolen.
    We have faced many difficulties in each of the countries. First, some countries are indeed beginning to return state-held communal properties, that is, properties that were legally held by religious communities: churches, synagogues, cemeteries, community centers, hospitals. But much of the property is, unfortunately, in the control of municipal authorities rather than the central governments; and those municipal authorities are often unwilling to divest themselves of what may be valuable property.
    For private property, citizenship and residency requirements present a stumbling block thwarting their return. In addition, in many countries the restitution laws that do exist are very narrowly drawn. For example, in Lithuania, from which I just came, religious properties can be returned but not communal properties that are considered non-religious. In addition, there are bureaucratic difficulties in virtually every country, and these are compounded by changes in post-War boundaries and populations so that properties that were stolen during the war, which were in one country are not because of boundary changes in another. There is no single grand solution and we have to work at it country by country.
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    With respect to communal property, there is in almost every one of the countries I've visited some progress. Churches, synagogues, and public facilities are being returned. But the process is slow, difficult, and painful.
    My full testimony and the chart, which is annexed to it, provides a country by country analysis. Rather than going through all that now, that is there for the record.
    In addition to the work we have done on restitution is the coming to terms with history. This began in many respects with the publication of a British report in late 1996, and then our May 1997 report and June 1998 report on which this committee and Chairman Leach, in particular the House—and, Mr. Chairman, I would like to acknowledge Chairman Leach's extraordinary efforts here to help us elevate this issue—on the issue of the role of neutral countries, including Switzerland in accepting looted Nazi gold and in supplying critical materials for the sustaining of the war effort.
    Our research efforts, along with the pioneering efforts of the British government lay the historical foundations for research into this whole range of issues. Remarkably, over a dozen countries in addition to the United States and the United Kingdom have now established truth commissions to examine their roles during World War II and dealing in looted assets. This includes Argentina and Brazil, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, France, Turkey, and most recently, the three Baltic countries.
    In some respects these research efforts culminated in the London Gold Conference in December in which 42 countries joined together to share information. No country is undertaking more comprehensive research on its relationship with Nazi Germany than Switzerland through the Bergier Commission report. This report, released May 25th, came to the harsh conclusion that the Swiss National Bank knew as early as 1941 that it was accepting looted Nazi gold, and it categorically rejected the Swiss National Bank's claim that they had dealt in good faith on Nazi gold.
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    To build on the landmark London Nazi Gold Conference, and to continue the search for truth, the State Department and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will co-host from November 30th to December 3rd, the Washington conference on Holocaust-era assets. We'll review our progress on the gold issue but we'll particularly focus on art and insurance and the need for each country to open its archives for historical investigation.
    We have a great interest in seeing issues related to Nazi confiscated artwork addressed fairly and expeditiously. We want the international art market to be open, stable, and free of uncertainty that it may be trading in works whose history is tainted by Nazi depredation. In this respect, we have worked very closely with American museum directors who are establishing their own guidelines.
    On insurance, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, with whom I've met on several occasions, has formed a task force to address Holocaust-era claims and they're attempting to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the large European insurers, such as Zurich, Generale, and Allianze.
    The third area that has been spawned by all of this remarkable activity is the area of compensation itself. This effort at greater understanding of the past has galvanized the international community to do, albeit belated, justice in ways that provide material and moral justice to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. We're concluding very shortly the work of the Tripartite Gold Commission, and I'll be going to Paris in early September for the formal closing down of that commission. This is the commission that received 337 tons of gold after World War II and redistributed back to the countries from whom the Nazis took it.
    But something important has happened, and that is we've established a new international Nazi Persecutee's Relief Fund. Most of the countries which have had gold on deposit with the TGC because, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, six tons has still not been returned, have agreed to donate their shares to the Fund rather than take the gold back themselves. We've also obtained pledges of contributions from other countries that don't have claims on the gold and we're now arranging for the transfer to the fund of the first portion, $4 million, of a total U.S. contribution of $25 million. Fourteen countries have now made pledges totaling $57 million to this Fund with more likely to come.
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    I want to commend both our international partners, but especially the U.S. Congress and the people in this room particularly being active, this committee and, again, Chairman Leach for his activities in this endeavor which has stimulated other countries to act.
    There are other recent examples of progress in the area of compensation. One of the remaining injustices suffered by what I call ''the double victims'' in Central and Eastern Europe who no one knows better than Congressman Lantos who has dealt with them so closely. And, that is, those victims who lived behind the Iron Curtain after the war were never compensated by the Germans. The German government has now agreed to establish a fund of 200 Deutsche marks, or $110 million dollars, which will this year for the first time directly compensate Jewish victims of Nazism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This is something that I have raised several times on my trips to Bonn, but it is a special tribute to the leadership of German Chancellor Kohl and his Government, and most especially to Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, and the Claim Conference. And I have to say with Israel Singer in this room that no one did more than Mr. Singer did to make this signal accomplishment occur.
    The Swiss are also providing compensation for victims and survivors. The Volcker Commission process will lead to the return plus interest over 50 years, that is roughly 9 to 10 times what is found in certain dormant bank accounts to their rightful owners. In my talks with Chairman Volcker, he believes that by the end of this year, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, his accounting firms will have completed a large part of their audit and that he will have a good idea of the amount of dormant accounts that are involved.
    There's also a special fund for Holocaust survivors and this $200 million fund and contributions from the three major Swiss banks, the Swiss National Bank and other Swiss private companies is intact. There's an initial allocation of $53 million, which has been made for individual survivors, $20 million has been distributed to these double victims, and I understand that the next allocations will go to survivors in Israel and the United States.
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    Likewise if class actions can be settled against the three private Swiss banks, this will lead to still additional funds for victims.
    And, finally, the Swiss government remains committed to the establishment of a $4.7 billion solidarity fund, that is the corpus which will throw out a couple of hundred million dollars a year in interest for a wide range of humanitarian issues including explicitly reaffirmed on June 23rd by the Swiss Federal Council Holocaust projects who can be recipients of the foundation.
    I'd like to close by talking about Congress' role because this is not just a task for NGO's or for the State Department. You've already done a great deal just by holding hearings and showing your attention. Permit me to suggest some additional roles that may be taken by Members of Congress.
    First, in the area of property restitution. I hope that the Congress will speak this session by resolution in both Houses on the importance of Central and Eastern European countries and those of the former of Soviet Union making rapid progress on the return of restituted property. They will listen if you speak. European institutions have already acted. The Council of Europe, the European Parliament in Brussels have called upon Central and Eastern European countries to return religious, communal, and personal property or compensate their rightful owners in a reasonable way, those taken both by Nazis and by the Communists after the war.
    There are additional things that Congress can do. For example, when senior ministers from Central or Eastern European and former Soviet Union countries come to visit the Congress, as they do so often, if you could put this property restitution issue high on the list of those issues you raise, and add your voice to ours, it would make a huge difference.
    Likewise on the restitution issue, as you take codels to Central and Eastern Europe, you could emulate the example of Congressman Lantos, who regularly and very helpfully raises this issue with senior members of the governments. He and I met just a few weeks ago in Poland and adding his voice to ours in Poland is already producing results I'm quite confident.
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    In addition to the property restitution, Congress has also made steps in the second of the areas I mentioned and this is compensation by authorizing $25 million for the Nazi Persecutee Relief Fund. I would urge the Congress to give us the maximum flexibility in the utilization of those funds. And I can tell you point blank that the fact that Congress has acted has been a stimulant to our getting other countries to make contributions to this new relief fund. And that's one of the reasons that we have $57 million and counting.
    Third, and last, is the issue of understanding, of coming to terms with the truth. Just as I've mentioned, there are a dozen countries, indeed more, that have established truth commissions, and just as our own executive branch, likewise Congress with the strong leadership of President Clinton has passed, and the President has signed into law, new legislation which will allow us to conduct research on Holocaust-era assets in the United States that came into the control of either the U.S. Government or State governments from 1933 to 1945.
    The President will soon name the members of that commission. We know that the Congress will do likewise in establishing a strong commission that can meet its mandate by the deadline of December 31, 1999, and will strengthen our moral authority as a country and our diplomatic credibility around the world as we urge other countries to come to terms with their past. We'll be sending a very clear message and that is that the U.S. Government will leave no stone unturned in our determination to address the fate of these assets as we enter the new millennium.
    So, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, in conclusion in all three of these areas: property restitution, compensation for victims and survivors—and that includes by the way, Romany and Gypsy survivors with whom we're increasingly reaching out, as well as Jewish survivors, of course—and our search for truth and greater understanding, in all three of these areas we're trying to bring an element of morality and justice which will allow us to enter this new millennium having completed, albeit imperfectly, some of the unfinished business of the 20th century.
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    Thank you.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Eizenstat appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. We thank you for your comprehensive review of this issue. As you know, we passed out of this committee The Holocaust Victims' Redress Act, which is now Public Law 105–158, and we also passed the U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act of 1998, 105–186. We thank Mr. Leach, who happens to be chairman of the Banking Committee in the Congress, for his leadership in these efforts.
    The Holocaust Victims' Redress Act authorizes some $25 million, an amount which is equal to the present value of the difference between the amount which was authorized to be transferred to successor organizations to compensate for assets. We are now awaiting the appointment of the commission per the Holocaust Assets Commission Act. Both of these, we hope, will be a step in the right direction.
    With regard to your suggestion that we raise this issue with visiting dignitaries, I want to assure you we do that on a regular basis. And when our codels go overseas, we also raise these issues with the host countries that we're visiting.
    Let me raise a few questions, and then we'll turn to our colleagues. What seems to be the greatest frustrations you've encountered of late with regard to resolving this issue?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. There are so many that it's hard to pick one or two, but I will say systemically, first, with respect to private property, which involves literally tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who were citizens either during the Communist or Nazi eras in Central and Eastern Europe and are now American citizens. There is a deep concern that countries which have passed restitution laws, as many but not all have done, have put in citizenship and residency requirements. And our belief is that as these countries enter, and seek to enter, western institutions, whether it's OECD, WTO, the European Union, NATO, Council of Europe, and a whole host of others, they should be adopting western standards of property restitution in which those kinds of restrictions do not exist.
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    On the communal property area, it is simply the fact there is too much inertia. There are in almost all of these countries communal property restitution laws. That, however, has not led to the kind of rapid return of properties, in part because the municipalities control many of these properties, in part simply out of difficulty in getting the government to move. In Lithuania, from which I just came, for example, there's even a court judgment in favor of the Jewish community for three properties but there have been endless negotiations over either their return or compensation. So that's why continued efforts by the Congress and the executive branch to highlight this can help.
    Chairman GILMAN. Which countries are you finding are the least cooperative with our efforts?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, the countries that have done the least are countries like Belarus, which really is very, very far behind. I think that most of the other countries have laws in place and do want to take actions but they simply need an encouragement. Lithuania would be an example of that. But, again, the Czech Republic has done a fairly good job of returning property that the central government holds, but there are 202 properties that their municipalities have held. Their decree does not cover municipalities, and very few of those properties have been returned. So that is a particular problem there.
    Hungary is a model for all of the countries in how they should act. Hungary has established a foundation. The properties are being returned promptly to that foundation and they've even added a direct compensation to survivors through that foundation. We're not finding that in many of the other countries.
    Poland is one that offers the greatest challenge. And here I wish to be frank in particular because I think that it is necessary to be frank. Poland, of course, had the largest Jewish population before the war and now one of the smallest, 3.5 million versus around 10,000. The number of properties in Poland is tremendous. I believe as a result of my visit there, and the work of many others—I know Congressman Lantos was also there—that there is a willingness on the part of the government to act, and indeed, I was told by the foreign minister that this fall they would be introducing for the first time a private property act, and he said that they would have no residency or citizenship requirements. So Polish Americans, either from the Communist or Holocaust era would have the opportunity to reclaim. This is very positive.
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    But one of the difficulties is—and this is a problem in every one of the countries, it's particularly a problem in Poland—simply doing the research, Mr. Chairman, to identify the ownership. The local Jewish communities often don't have the resources to do it. They require the help, and in many countries they're getting it, of groups like the World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, and others to hire lawyers and researchers.
    But the problem in Poland, quite frankly, is a very real division between the small local Jewish community and the World Jewish Restitution Organization. I have brought those two parties together in my recent visit to try to iron out their difficulties. It is urgently important that the international and local Jewish communities in that country and in several others coordinate their activities so that they can get about the business of researching and developing the ownership for these properties. That is not the responsibility of the government. The government can't restitute properties back unless those properties are identified. So, frankly, in Poland this is a crucial, crucial need.
    There's a 5-year window in Poland to their law. A year and a half has passed and this disagreement remains. It's very important that it be resolved. So you asked me the problems, I'm being frank to say that is one of the problems.
    Chairman GILMAN. While we were in Poland, the Polish authorities assured us that communal property was in the process of being returned.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Some of it is, but only a few hundred and there are thousands.
    Chairman GILMAN. Three thousand, they indicated.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Yes, 3,000 to 5,000 but those have to be researched and until this disagreement between the international and local Jewish communities can be resolved, the processing of those claims and the research of those claims can't begin.
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Secretary, some have urged that Holocaust-related asset issues should be linked to larger issues. For example, membership in NATO. What are your thoughts with regard to that proposal?
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    Mr. EIZENSTAT. We don't think that there should be a litmus test beyond those that NATO itself requires any more than the European Union would. What we do believe, however, is that we have a right to expect that countries that enter NATO, countries that would enter other institutions, we, of course, can't speak for the European Union, but that enter into other institutions of which you're a part, we are a part, should be integrating their laws such that they meet Western standards. So then rather than have a litmus test or a requirement, which we think is not productive, we do believe we have a right to expect that if they're going to be a part of NATO, they will have adopted western standards in terms of property restitution.
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Secretary, one last question. How many personnel do you have that are responsible for this issue?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, the State Department has really been extremely supportive. In addition to myself, and, of course, this is not my full-time responsibility, but in addition to the work that I'm doing, one senior foreign service officer has been dedicated to working full-time on this, formerly Victor Comras, and now I'm pleased to say a very distinguished ambassador who is seated behind me, Ambassador Henry Clark. He is spending literally full-time on this.
    In addition, in terms of the Washington conference which will focus on property restitution, in particular, again, on art and insurance, there we have another full-time foreign service officer, one of the very best we have in the foreign service, J.D. Bindenagel, who is also behind me. And he works on this full-time. He was the charge d'affair and before that the DCM in our embassy in Bonn. He's working full-time on the conference. And Bennett Freeman, who is a senior advisor in my inside office, works on these issues as well. So we have a very good team. It's small, but it's very dedicated. And we are able to get a lot done in a lot of countries.
    Chairman GILMAN. Do you have sufficient assets to accomplish what you're seeking to do?
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    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, one would always like more but I think we have a good team and the Department is very supportive of our efforts.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. Mr. Hamilton.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Secretary, when you're talking about cooperation, you were focusing on Central Europe, Eastern Europe. What about the Swiss and the Germans and the French, how would you characterize their response thus far?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, I would take each one of them. First, with respect to the French, and I say this genuinely, I think that what President Chirac has done in creating what is called the Matioli Commission is a genuinely courageous and remarkable act for two reasons. First of all, France has long denied, including their Presidents, that Vichy France was really a part of France. It somehow was an extra-French entity according to many French leaders. President Chirac said, no, it was France. It was the Government of France during a difficult period. We're responsible for its actions, and I want the commission to investigate the role of Vichy France in rounding up French Jews and others, and cooperating and collaborating with the Nazis.
    And the second reason that it is historic is that because he has charged the commission to do an inventory of all looted artwork, some of which hangs in the Louvre and other famous museums in Paris and throughout France, to identify that artwork, to return it to its rightful owners. So France has really moved forward, and France has also made a contribution to our Nazi Persecutee Fund of $3.3 million.
    As I've mentioned, Germany has already expended $60 billion on the victims on the Holocaust who lived in western Europe, the United States, or Israel. They're now, as a result of the very good, again, of the World Jewish Congress and our efforts, and those of the American Jewish Committee will be creating this new 200 million Deutsche mark fund to pay the victims who have never been compensated because they live behind the Iron Curtain.
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    The Swiss, I believe, are also making progress through the Bergier Commission, historical review, the Volcker review of dormant accounts, their various funds that they've created; and I'm hopeful that if the class actions can be settled, we will have still additional funds.
    Mr. HAMILTON. On the question of cost to the U.S. Government, is the $25 million you mentioned in your testimony the only authorization we have at this point?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Yes, sir, it is. But you've also authorized money for the new commission that will be examining U.S. Holocaust-era assets, and that commission has the right to make recommendations to the President and the Congress based on what they find in terms of insurance, or other dormant accounts because what we know is this. In the United States our laws were such that dormant bank accounts would have ceded to the States in which the banks had those accounts. Actually, in Switzerland, one of the reasons that the Volcker Commission can begin to identify at least some, although undoubtedly not all of the accounts, is because under Swiss law they remain the property of the banks. Not so in the United States.
    So we want to work with the States to identify those types of accounts. And it may be that as a result of the work of the commission, there may be a request for additional appropriations but that is long down the road and we don't know that.
    Mr. HAMILTON. So you don't have any specific amounts of money in mind yet?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. No, the commission has not yet begun its work.
    One other activity that I'd like to mention that the Swedish Government has begun is they have created, and I'm told that there are as many pamphlets on this as there are Bibles in Swedish homes, a Holocaust education program. And on September 25th, we'll be organizing a seminar. Bennett Freeman and J.D. Bindenagel and others will be working on this, in which we hope to have a number of other governments who will participate in trying to encourage Holocaust education as the Swedes have done in their school systems because in the end compensation is very important, but this is compensation to elderly survivors. What is critically important, Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Leach, that there be something that endures into the 21st century; and that kind of education program in each of these countries would be something important and that's something we will be working on.
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    Mr. HAMILTON. I'm impressed, according to your testimony, as I get into this a little more, by how many different governments are involved, how many private religious organizations are involved, how many commissions, how many panels have been set up, and I wonder about the coordination of all of this.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, it's a good point. First of all, one has to——
    Mr. HAMILTON. How do we get it all together and—and then I'll conclude with this, Mr. Chairman—is the Washington conference going to address—well, maybe I should put it more broadly, what do you think will come out of the Washington conference? Does that relate to my first inquiry?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. You're quite right about the number of panels and commissions and funds. This is generally good news because 2 years ago none of these existed. I mean what's remarkable is that in the space of a little over 24 months an issue that had been at best assigned to the history books has become a front-page issue. And country after country after country is addressing it, and most in appropriate ways, albeit perhaps slower than we would want, but they are addressing it.
    Now, the question of coordination is critical. There's obviously no one group or organization who can ascribe to itself, including the United States, the right to coordinate this. But we do have our fingers on the pulse of each of these activities. We help encourage these commissions in many of the countries. And it is our hope that just as the London conference was a coordinative mechanism where we could hear reports from the country, that the Washington conference will be as well.
    You asked what we hope to get out of the conference. First, we hope to have reports so that we can find out what each of these commissions is doing, what progress they've made. We coordinate the efforts of these funds to find out how we can use these funds in ways which are most just and which promote the interests that we would want.
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    Beyond that, we have other goals for the conference. We are hopeful of having non-binding guidelines on art so that we don't have a repeat of the problem we've had with these two Schiele art pieces in Austria where they've been impounded and we have lawsuits, and so forth. The whole question of the providence of art we hope to establish some guidelines for.
    Likewise, on the insurance issue we hope there will be some progress made together with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to promote the insurance issue. This is a new issue, and I'll take just 1 second to mention it. What happened on the insurance issue is the following: First, the Germans forced insurers to pay the cash surrender value of the victims they were killing. And they used that to help finance the war.
    Second, after the war, they turned down claims of survivors, that is, of families of victims who were seeking to be compensated under their family's insurance policies. They were often turned down because they couldn't produce things like death certificates when they had died in concentration camps or in open pits. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has done a tremendous job of beginning this process, and we hope that the Washington conference will elevate that issue as well.
    And, third, on property restitution we do hope that that issue will also be elevated.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Just to conclude, the energy, the driving force behind all of this is the U.S. Government?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Yes, sir, I think we can be very proud of the fact that the Congress and the executive branch are the driving force that again shows in a very different and distinctive way than we're used to the value that the United States has in this world and the leadership that it provides. I dare say that were it not for the United States of America very few, if any, of these activities would be ongoing today.
    Mr. HAMILTON. And I think you deserve a lot of credit for that personally. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Leach.
    Mr. LEACH. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and it's good to see you again, Stuart. It strikes me first getting to the basics that, as you indicated in your statement, that we're dealing with the greatest mass theft in history, but that accountability is crucial because the theft was one of the things that impelled the genocide itself.
    I was struck several years ago when a former Nuremberg prosecutor named Ben Ferends came to my office and he was commenting about the Swiss issue and suggesting that the work of the Banking Committee was quite appropriate in this area. But he also said by reference that from all the documents that he reviewed at the war's end, it was clear that the preeminence or the preponderance of the most ghoulish activities occurred in Eastern Europe.
    And I didn't probe that at great length, but 6 or 7 months later I was in my home town and talking with a family friend. And we do not have a large number of Holocaust victims in my State, and she was telling me about what she had done the previous month. She had visited the Ukraine. And I said, ''Why would you go and visit the Ukraine?'' And she talked about roots and she talked about her family getting out just before the war and knowing that all of her relatives had been killed, and she went back to their small town. And she asked what happened and no one knew. She and her sister had gone.
    And then on the last hour that they were there an older Russian woman, kind of a Babushka type, signaled to them to come and sit down with her and she said I will tell. And she told the story that many in this room have heard many times about how on a given day in 1942 the German army came in and they were met at the town square by the police chief and the mayor. They were presented a list of all the Jewish citizens of that town and it was a town of 4,000, of whom 1,500 were Jewish. And that night all the Jewish citizens were rounded up and put in the square, and then from three surrounding villages over the next day every one was rounded up. And so there were 4,000 people in a kind of a fenced-in area. And she said that the citizens of the town were told not to provide food or water. And then 2 days later they were all taken out into a distant field.
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    But the reason I raise this is not only the historical context of the genocide, but if one thinks about it, there's virtually no communal property left in these small towns. And there's no one that would seek it because there are no survivors. By the same token there would have been residences for 1,500 people. There would have been beds. There would have been pots and pans, probably no artwork. None of this is in a sense on the agenda of this circumstance. And we're dealing with parts of the world that themselves are economically imploded today.
    But one of the profound questions, it seems to me, is that there ought to be accountability and as much as I am personally extraordinarily interested in the art issue, it's a bit esoteric and applies to very, very few people.
    And so the question I ask is, how does one seek accountability in places for which there is maybe no survivor?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, this is a very good question and this is the very essence of the issue in Poland where, again, there were 3.5 million Jewish citizens and now there are roughly 10,000. And there is an answer to this, and that is the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the local Jewish community, if they can ever reach agreement, have decided in essence that those nine or so, perhaps there are a few more, living communities where there are still critical mass will themselves handle the restituted property. But in the far greater number communities that are precisely the kind you're referring to where there are no survivors or such a small number that there's no critical mass, the World Jewish Restitution Organization will itself be the manager, if you will, of the restituted property on an international basis.
    This is as it should be, and I think that if there is any solution to the very difficult problem you have raised, it is that. And this is the case in many of the Central European countries where you have small surviving local communities who may not be able to manage all of the property in all of the towns and where they need the international help to research the claims, the titles, go through the processes that many countries have, and then manage the property or sell it after it has been returned. That's why this cooperation between the local and the international communities is so absolutely critical and why there is a real time urgency to get it done.
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    Mr. LEACH. Well, thank you very much.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Leach. Mr. Sherman.
    Mr. SHERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Eizenstat, you're to be congratulated for all your work in this area. The U.S. Holocaust Commission Act was signed a couple of months ago by the President to establish a Presidential advisory commission. How do you envision that that commission will impact on the coming conference?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. The President will undoubtedly name his Members in September. I believe the Senate has already done so and I trust that the House will shortly do so. We have a December 31, 1999 deadline so we have to get about acting quickly, and the resources that have been provided to the commission are fairly small and the task very large.
    What we have to do, Mr. Sherman, is, therefore, to work very closely because of the limits of our own resources and time with the States. As I mentioned before you came in, in our country, dormant bank accounts, that is those that are more than 10 years old, escheat to the States. They don't stay in the hands of the banks as they do in Switzerland. And, therefore, whatever records exist will largely be in the hands of the 50 States, of which five to seven will be the most critical. The same will be true of insurance and other assets. So we'll have to work very closely with those who have existing records.
    We also know, and the British interestingly just found this out just only 2 or 3 months ago, publicized it, apologized for it, created a $3 million fund, and will try to compensate some 25,000 people; and that is during the early parts of the war, the United States, the UK, and the allies froze German funds or the funds of Axis countries for obvious reasons. But what was not recognized is that some of those funds were bank accounts or other assets from people who had fled or had used relatives to shield their assets from the Nazi onslaught in Germany and that money may have well disappeared into the banks or other institutions because there were no survivors. So that also has to be researched.     So it's a daunting task, but I think if we can get, as I'm sure we will, the cooperation of the insurance commissioners and the controllers of the various cities and States, that we will be able to complete our work in time for the December 31 deadline.
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    Mr. SHERMAN. I would hope that as Europeans notice our model, which is that dormant accounts and unclaimed assets escheat to the State, they might see some of the moral benefits of that as opposed to a situation where financial institutions have little incentive to find the true owners of assets in dormant accounts, and where their failure to find them enriches the institution that holds the assets.
    I'd like to return to the insurance company issue. Are insurance companies asserting that they don't have a liability under the life insurance policies on the basis that they paid the cash surrender value, albeit to an Axis Government?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. This is one of the most complicated and difficult issues and you certainly put your hands on one piece of the difficult puzzle, and that is the fact that they were forced to already pay the cash surrender value early on. There are many other problems. For example, in Central and Eastern Europe there were several insurers like Generale and others in Poland, one called PZU, that was nationalized by the Communists after the war and so those assets are no longer in the hands of private insurance companies, they were in the hands of governments. This all has to be sorted out.
    I can say this. I have met with the chairman of Allianze. I've met several times with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. They're trying to develop, Mr. Sherman, an MOU with the major European insurers to open their books, to have some understanding of how to deal with the very issue you raised. And I have found in talking to the insurers—I've also met with senior representatives of Generale—that there is a willingness to take into account the moral issues involved, such as the one you've raised. And I hope with goodwill on both sides that this is an issue that can be resolved. I know that goodwill does exist and I hope that there can be a fair arrangement here that takes into account the very situation you mentioned.
    Mr. SHERMAN. I would point out that the Axis and the Nazi regimes had a number of unfair taxes and property confiscations but to say, ''We don't owe the heirs of a life insurance policy the payoff because we were forced to pay an unfair tax to the Nazi regime,'' strikes me as a weak defense.
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    The final question, with the permission of the Chair, if restitution is to be made and all the hurdles have been overcome, is restitution made in unadjusted currencies or currencies that have been adjusted for inflation?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. That's a very good question. The Volcker process of dormant accounts will be adjusted for inflation and interest, and, therefore, if they find, hypothetically, $20 million, that will be grossed up to a factor of nine to ten. If they find $40 million, it will be $400 million instead of $200 million. So in that case it is.
    With respect, however, to property, in many cases, the property—and, Mr. Chairman, you asked what are some of the difficulties—one of the problems that I didn't mention but want to is that much of the property is occupied. People are using it. What do you do about the current occupants who may have bought it in good faith? So in many cases you can't return the actual property, you have to pay compensation.      It's virtually impossible for these poor countries to pay the value grossed up. So you have to do it on a very rough justice basis. So in some cases interest is being paid, and other cases it's not. It varies with the particular situation. Again, in the dormant Swiss accounts it is. I would hope in the United States to the extent that we found dormant accounts, it also would be adjusted for inflation and interest.
    Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Blunt.
    Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Ambassador, for the time and talent that you're investing in this. I apologize for not hearing your testimony, and I don't want you to repeat things you've already talked about in detail here. I know in the written testimony, talking about the Eastern European countries, the countries that are primarily the commonwealth of independent states, countries now, you mentioned that in the communal property issues that Belarus, I think you said, was doing the worst job handling this, and Hungary was at the top in handling that. Would you give us a little sense of how these reactions differ? I think maybe you just did some of that in saying that the strength of the country determined how we could even encourage them to react to this. But I guess what I really want to know is, what are we encouraging them to do, and what kind of response are we getting from your efforts to encourage them? And how can we move countries toward the mark that you say is now the best mark, and is there anything that we ought to even be continuing to encourage Hungary to be doing to be even better?
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    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Yes, thank you very much. First, I think it's not coincidental that, by and large, those countries which have done best economically and in terms of developing deep democratic roots since the fall of communism are those that have done the best in terms of restitution. That's why Belarus is at the far end of the spectrum in terms of the lack of activity because it has come the least distance.
    I think that what ought to be done and what Congress can do, again, if I can just reiterate some of the things I mentioned before you came in. And that is, you could pass resolutions, sense-of-the-House, sense-of-the-Senate resolutions on the importance of these countries expediting their restitution processes. The European Parliament has done so. It would be very, very useful if it could be done by our Congress.
    Chairman Gilman mentioned that on codels and in visits by foreign leaders from these countries here, if that continues to be put on the agenda and more Members can raise this issue, they will get the hint.
    Third, although we strongly feel that there should not be a conditionality for membership in NATO or the WTO or other organizations, these are countries that wish to integrate into western institutions; and they ought to recognize that part of that integration needs to be developing property laws and property rights protections that are similar to those that western countries have without artificial citizenship and residency requirements for restitution and the like. And I think if the Congress can reinforce the fact that we have a right to expect progress in these areas as they integrate into western institutions, that would likewise help.
    So I think in all of these ways, your codels, your meetings, resolutions, Congress can play a very vital role, hearings, such as this one and the ones that Congressman Leach has held, all of these can be very, very useful in elevating the issue.
    I mentioned Lithuania as well and I want to make it clear. I'm very pleased with the meetings I had with the Lithuanian Government. I think that their new government is dedicated to move on this issue, and I hope that Hungary can do more to simply publicize what it has done, and that the new government, which has come in, would follow the course that the Horn Government, which set many of these institutions up, has followed.
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    Mr. BLUNT. Does the EU have this on their screen as they talk to these countries about some future membership opportunity?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. To be quite frank, if it's on their agenda and I found—I was ambassador there for 2 1/2 years—it's so low as to be just about off the radar screen. Now, I do want to say the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union has been excellent. They passed a very good resolution in 1995. The executive arm, so far as I can determine, rarely, if ever, raises this issue. And these are countries which will be their future member states. In terms of influence, they have accession agreements with every one of the Central and Eastern European countries, not, of course, with those of the former Soviet Union. So they could have much more effect on property restitution than the United States could because of their future membership in the EU; and I hope that they will do so. And actually it's a good point because Chairman Gilman, I note, chairs—I think twice a year—meetings with the European Parliament members. They themselves have been very good but I think to the extent that when you meet, Mr. Chairman, with your delegation and you meet with some of the members from the commission, Leon Britton and others, Santier, that to the extent that this can be put on their agenda and they should be encouraged to work with their future member states, that would also be a very good way of moving this process along.
    Mr. BLUNT. Was this topic discussed at all when we discussed the expansion of NATO?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. There is in the Senate resolution supporting the expansion of NATO to the three new countries, a provision which encourages the executive branch to raise the insurance issues with these three countries. So it was at least the beginning of a recognition that we needed to elevate this issue, and that is formally in the ratification proceedings.
    Mr. BLUNT. Do you think in the location of the potential second round of expansion, do you think it ought to be a higher agenda item in the second-round discussions?
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    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Again, we don't think that there should be conditionality but I think that it is an issue that ought to be elevated, yes.
    Mr. BLUNT. And I also heard you say, I think clearly, that anything we could do to encourage the EU as they work out their future accession agreements might be the most helpful thing that——
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. It would be very helpful. Again, I wouldn't suggest to tell them how to set their conditions, no more than we would want conditions on NATO involving property restitution, they undoubtedly won't either. But they have themselves, Mr. Blunt, and I'll give you an example, when I was there, Austria had certain restrictions not related to the Holocaust era on the ownership of property. And although they were given a temporary transition period, this had to do with restrictions on German ownership of second homes. This was made a condition of membership. That is the whole issue of private property, the disposition and transfer of private property not having unreasonable citizenship and residency requirements. All of those are things that the EU has already done, not in this context but in related contexts. So it would not be unreasonable to discuss these with the accession countries even if it's not a condition of membership.
    Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Blunt. Mr. Hamilton.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I just have one additional question. I wanted to get your attitude toward the steps that are being taken by municipalities in this country and by States to impose sanctions. Campaigns are now actually underway to enlist hundreds of different municipalities in imposing sanctions on foreign countries or foreign entities. What is the impact of that? How do you assess it? And does it help or undercut your ability to reach a resolution here?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Well, we respect the interest of States and localities in trying to add their voice to what is often moral issues. It's important, however, to recognize that under our Constitution it is the national government which has the responsibility to conduct foreign policy, and it is important that we try to speak to foreign governments and foreign corporations with one voice, otherwise it becomes very confusing. So what we're trying to do is develop an outreach program. We've met with the National Governor's Association with a number of States to explain to them our international obligations under the World Trade Organization, under the Government Procurement Act and other requirements, as well as what our foreign policy is in areas like Burma, for example, where state and local governments are beginning to act so that we don't act in disparate ways. It oftentimes is not helpful to have State and local governments diverging from the policies which the national government——
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    Mr. HAMILTON. So you're really trying to discourage them?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Wherever possible.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Just one last note, Mr. Eizenstat. There was some information passed on to us a while back that our Mint is holding some gold that was related to the gold assets during World War II in Europe. Have you explored that?
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Yes. Of the six tons of gold remaining in the Tripartite Gold Commission gold pool, about one-third was in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and about two-thirds in the Bank of England. That's not the same gold that was collected 50 years ago. It has since been transferred many times, but that is the gold that belongs to some of the claimant countries who have already gotten about 65 percent. We found through our research that some of the gold in the Tripartite gold pool belonged to victims, and it was on that basis that we went to the claimant countries and asked them not to take their remaining six tons, including that in the Federal Reserve Bank and to put it into the Nazi Persecutee Relief Fund. Other than that, I'm not aware of any Holocaust-era assets that may be in the Mint, but, again, this commission that you have supported and that the President has championed and signed into law will certainly be looking at that kind of an issue as well.
    Chairman GILMAN. Yes, I hope you would pursue that. We had some information that that came about as a result of World War II.
    I want to thank you, Ambassador Eizenstat, for your time and for your very thorough review and we hope you'll continue your extensive work in this direction.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Thank you. I'd like to just make one last personal statement to you and to the Members of your committee and really to the Congress and to the American people, and that is I think something that Mr. Hamilton said, it is truly a remarkable situation that the United States of America would take 50 years after these events such an active and engaged interest in seeing that justice would be done. Unquestionably, what has been accomplished would not have been accomplished worldwide were it not for the United States and I think it shows, to me at least, the best of this country, what this country really stands for and what a remarkable country the United States of America is.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Before leaving, I see that Mr. Lantos was able to return and he did have some questions. Mr. Lantos.
    Mr. LANTOS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to Ambassador Eizenstat. In another committee room they're attempting to hold Attorney General Reno in contempt; and some of us are attempting to prevent that.
    Let me first express my unbounded admiration for the work that Ambassador Eizenstat has done on this and all other issues that he has been responsible for in his distinguished public service.
    Let me just make a few general observations. The first one, of course, relates to the passage of time. There are very few issues that we deal with where the passage of time is as important as this issue because the Holocaust generation is a passing generation. Unless our government and other governments recognize the urgency of coming to closure on these issues, the people obviously most directly impacted will no longer be here. I simply cannot underscore the importance of moving as expeditiously as possible.
    Second, let me say a word about attitudes. To me, far more significant than dollar amounts or the number of pieces of property returned is the attitude of the various governments involved and the various private organizations involved. When we see some Swiss bank officials demanding death certificates from children of survivors so they can prove that their parents were killed at Auschwitz, my stomach turns because everybody knows that Auschwitz did not issue death certificates. My feeling is that perhaps rating the attitude of governments and private organizations is most usefully done by examining carefully their attitudes toward this whole nightmare of a problem.
    Third, I would like to say a word about generational change. I believe it's extremely important that those of us who are engaged in this effort recognize that to a very large extent we are dealing with a generation that was not alive when these events occurred, and damming generalizations about national groups like the Swiss, I find to be outrageous. Most people living in Switzerland today were born after the Second World War, and they must not be held responsible for the outrageous actions which occurred during that period.
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    I also would like to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that in proposing solutions we need to be future-oriented. And by being future-oriented I mean asking for programs that introduce in school systems curricula dealing with the Holocaust in particular and with persecution of individuals for whatever grounds in general.
    When I was in Switzerland and dealt with the Swiss authorities on this issue, my main attempt was geared to introducing in all Swiss schools programs on the Holocaust, programs on the history of the Second World War, programs on the questions of discrimination and persecution, and establishment of a museum of tolerance in Switzerland, a world-class museum of tolerance in Switzerland which would teach generations yet unborn the lessons of this horrendous period in human history.
    My hope is that the work of the private organizations that have been mentioned earlier, the work of our government, and specifically Ambassador Eizenstat, will bear fruit. But more importantly beyond returning property, beyond making compensation, the most important impact of our work will be a future-oriented educational impact which will give substance to our anguished cry of ''Never again,'' which certainly has not been the case thus far as the most recent outrages in Kosovo so clearly demonstrate. Ethnic cleansing in 1998 clearly demonstrates that the lesson of the Holocaust has not been learned, and it is my hope that a major effort of this gigantic undertaking will be geared to the education dimension which in many ways has so far been under-emphasized.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. I'm very pleased you mentioned that and if I can just conclude with a response. I mentioned, Mr. Lantos, when you were out a couple of things but I'd like to add some more on the education front. First, Sweden has taken the lead, they've produced a brochure, they've distributed that to virtually every home in the country and the Prime Minister personally is putting this into the curriculum of elementary and secondary education schools.
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    Second, at the instance of Sweden and this government, on September 25th in Washington, we will be holding a meeting. We hope that the State of Israel will be represented and Germany to talk about how we can internationalize this educational curriculum.
    Third, we hope that the $25 million that Congress has authorized will give us the greatest flexibility so that, while a large part of it should go to survivors, some, perhaps, might be used for educational purposes.
    And, last, just today, there's an article in the Berner Zeitung in Switzerland mentioning that the President of Switzerland, Mr. Cotti, has talked to the Conference of Cantonal Educational Directors, they have cantonal schools, and that they are asking schools to develop this kind of curriculum in Swiss schools. So I think this is a new wave of interest. And you're quite right to say that this will be the most enduring thing that we can do and that's what our September 25th meeting will begin to plan.
    Mr. LANTOS. Thank you very much, Ambassador.
    Mr. EIZENSTAT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary and, again, we wish you well in your continued work.
    We'll now move to the second panel. Our second panel today consists of three individuals with expert knowledge of Holocaust-related issues. We're pleased to have with us the Honorable Avraham Hirschson, chairman of the Israel's Knesset Committee on Restitution, a member of the Knesset. Mr. Hirschson also serves as the Government of Israel's representative to the World Jewish Restitution Organization. We want to thank Chairman Hirschson for traveling to the United States to testify on this occasion before the Committee. Israel's active engagement in these matters, of course, is extremely important.
    We also have Dr. Israel Singer, who is chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, and is also Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress which plays a critical role in Holocaust asset issues. We welcome Dr. Singer this morning and commend Dr. Singer for his ongoing dedication. Many of us rely on Dr. Singer a great deal for current information. He has distinguished himself over the years, and his expertise is greatly valued.
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    Benjamin Meed, president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors really needs no introduction in the Congress. Mr. Meed represents the many hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors in our Nation. He has been a tireless advocate for them for many decades. I still recall our visit many years ago with President Ford at the White House when Benjamin Meed was first making this issue known to our Administration.
    Before we begin with this panel's testimony, I'll note that all three men recently visited Poland. During their visit, Chairman Hirschson and Dr. Singer met with the Prime Minister. I understand also that the Prime Minister of Romania just completed a visit to Israel where he met with you, Chairman Hirschson, and we are interested in learning more about that meeting.
    Chairman Hirschson, why don't you begin your testimony first and then we'll have Mr. Singer and Mr. Meed testify. You may submit your whole testimony for the record and summarize, or whatever you deem appropriate. Please proceed.
    Mr. HIRSCHSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your invitation and as the chairman of the Special Committee on Restitution and Property in the Knesset, I would like to thank you and your Members of the Committee and other top-notch people here in the States for your help. And we know that we couldn't achieve all that we have achieved until today.
    I will speak today about property. I will speak today about houses, lands, insurance companies, bank accounts, and paintings and arts. But we have to remember and not forget that in the basic we are speaking about six million Jewish people that were murdered during the Holocaust, that we are speaking about Jewish rights, human rights, that we are speaking about historical justice.
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    Mr. Chairman, we are sitting here in this hearing after 50 years. It's amazing. What happened in this 50 years? For 50 years, the world was silent. The banks denied that they have money. The insurance companies denied that they have life insurance. But at the same time some of them are paying to the criminals of the SS some pensions, but no pension to one of the victims.
    We are speaking about paintings that are hanging in the biggest museum in France. We're speaking about more than 2,500 paintings that belong to Jewish people. For us, each one of the paintings has a story, has a story of a home, has a story of a family. It's just not a painting that hangs. Some of them were painted in the camps. They had to be hanged in Jerusalem where my child and other Jewish youngsters in Israel and all over the world can look and see and can touch the history, but until now we cannot achieve it.
    I'll give you some examples. I am leading to Poland once a year 6,000 youngsters from more than 49 countries. We are visiting the camps. We are visiting Jewish communities that were destroyed.
    Mr. Chairman, we are speaking about a fortune of houses and land and stalls that were in more than 3,000 small countries all over Poland. Some of those people, some of those survivors are coming to me, to my office in the Knesset each day, and they are begging to get back what belongs to them. They are begging to get back the houses that they left, to get back the stalls that they left because they are old, they are not rich, most of them, and they need it. But we cannot achieve anything about private property nor with Poland and all these other countries.
    So that's why, you know—we achieved very much with the Swiss Government, Swiss banks today. We've built some foundation with the Swiss people. We established two committees that are working in Switzerland, but the most important thing that we achieve in Switzerland is that the Government of Switzerland decided to build a task force, and they appointed Mr. Thomas Boyle to deal with all the problems.
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    Two months ago, Mr. Thomas Boyle was in Israel with his President, Mr. Cotti, and he was asked two questions by the Israeli radio. One of them he was asked when do you think all those things are going to be finished? The answer was it's not so important, the most important thing is that we talk, that we speak. It's good for the young generation. Mr. Chairman, we are speaking about my grandmother, not about his grandmother.
    The other question was asked, ''What do you think about the demand of Mr. Edger Bronfman and other Jewish leaders about giving back $3 billion?'' He said, ''I'm disgusted to hear this demand.'' It's not the way that a person that leads all the Swiss Government on this issue would speak like this.
    That's why, Mr. Chairman, we appreciate your help here because our biggest enemy is time. We are speaking about people that are not young any more, that want to have what belongs to them in their last years.
    We sit with the President of Romania and we begin to fight. I'll tell you the truth. We begin to fight. But I asked one remark in the middle of the fighting and it changed the atmosphere. I told him, ''You know, in 2 days I'm going to be in a hearing in the Congress in your committee. What do you want me to tell them in the hearing?'' The whole atmosphere was changed. And in 5 minutes we established a committee with the Parliament of Israel and the Parliament of Romania to deal with the problems. So that's why we need your help so much.
    In the end I will ask you, with your permission, first of all, I would like to invite you to come to my committee in the Knesset and be our guest. I think it would be very helpful to our work there.
    Second, if it's possible, I would like to call for a unit to be established that will share information together, me and my committee with you. And we will give you and your committee reports on our activities, what we are doing, and I think if we work together on this very important human rights and human issues, we can achieve a lot in a short time.
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    Thank you very much.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Chairman Hirschson. I welcome the invitation and hopefully after the election process is over here, if we have some time, I'd like very much to visit your committee. I visited the Foreign Affairs Committee not too long ago in the Knesset and found it to be very instructive.
    Don't hesitate, though, to share your information with this committee and we'll be pleased to share information with your committee as well, and I think working together we can find some common ground for progress.
    We'll proceed now with Dr. Singer's testimony. Please stand by and we'll reserve questions until all the panelists have an opportunity to respond.
    Dr. Singer, you may submit your full statement for the record or summarize, whichever you deem appropriate.
    Mr. SINGER. Thank you, I'll do so. And I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me the opportunity to include our full statement in the record.
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, the full statement will be made a part of the record.
    Mr. SINGER. Thank you. I just want to note that we came to you just about 3 years ago, and you'll notice that in our submission, when yourself and Congressman Hamilton signed a leadership letter from both sides of the aisle and both Houses of Congress where you called to the world in an unusual call to change the attitude of those aging survivors who suffered such a grievous loss and to right this historical wrong. That's the very least that could be done. And I called you, Chairman Gilman, that's what you said at that time. It was only 1995. It's 1998 now. And I'd like to do a short summary, about a minute for each subject for the next 3 minutes and describe what happened in these 3 years.
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    In those 3 years, the world looked at many, many situations differently. Stuart Eizenstat this morning, Secretary Eizenstat pointed out that the German Government, which had paid a lot of money, decided suddenly that its attitude toward Jews in Eastern Europe needed to be changed, and that they could not be left out. That was the product of the changed attitude of this government, that was the product of the change, queries that were made by you and your colleagues.
    Sixty thousand new pensioners who were living on the edge of poverty and who were spending the last days of their lives in ignominy had changed suddenly.
    I shared the negotiating committee's task for seeking this money out with Ben Meed. We went to Germany. I think it was his first trip to Germany since the Holocaust. It was very soul-searching for Ben to do this, but we realized that it was our goal to see to it that there would not be one Holocaust survivor that should live in shame while we were alive. That was the most important task in these 3 years since we came to you and you got American public opinion to change, world public opinion as an achievement.
    And I feel that if one thing will ever be accomplished by efforts of Ben Meed and myself and of our colleagues and organizations and I particularly look here to my two colleagues, to Zvi Barak, who is my co-chairman, and to Elan Steinberg, who worked with us in these vineyards, I would like to say that this achievement is a signal achievement because these other poor people whose average age is 81 years old were people who fell between the cracks. Those were human dilemmas that we helped to resolve and the human dilemmas are more important than any questions of heirless property.
    But when we looked at the specific issues of heirless property over the last 3 years, we heard some clear and unclear views this morning. And I would like to say that the question of guilt with regard to neutral behavior toward theft might be something which can't be directed at countries, but the question of financial responsibility is something which can't be shirked by financial institutions, not by those people who are still alive, who did those things and not by those countries and those financial institutions that have the responsibility to pay that back.
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    And I would like to point out to you that those who shirk from that responsibility and those who hide from those responsibilities are the ones who are guilty for having those responsibilities today committed in other places.
    There is no exculpation possible. And there is no such thing as hiding behind either statutes of limitations or youth with regard to companies, banks, financial institutions, or even countries that stole from people or who are still stealing from people today in the baldest and most cruel way. This is not the attitude which was signed by you, Mr. Chairman. This is not the attitude which was signed by Mr. Hamilton. This is not the attitude which was signed by Mr. Dole. This is not the attitude which was signed by Mr. Gephardt. This is not the attitude which was signed by the joint Houses of this Congress on both sides of the aisle 3 years ago which gave us the moral ability to be able to question today every insurance company, every bank, every government with regard to the moral responsibility that hadn't been answered over these 50 years. And youth is not an exculpation.
    I would like to point out as well, sir, and I'd like to say this with clear, clear clarion calls. Norway answered your call. Hungary answered your call. I'd like to point out very, very clearly that there are certain companies in certain countries that responded in a moral and material way and those countries should be singled out and should be given tremendous credit. And as it was said, some countries are presently wrestling with those issues and should be encouraged in every way possible, such as France dealing with this in the Matioli Commission, and such as the new chairman of the new commission in Belgium that is dealing with this in a serious way, in Holland—and let us not look at these things and sweep things under the rug, west or east—in Holland, there were 137,000 Jews deported, and 130,000 never came back. And no property was restituted in that country to speak of.
    We can't look at allies that are friendly and others that are unfriendly and look at them with a different eye. We have to look at them in clear ways and we have to find out that those countries have to have their feet kept to the fire, they have to be telling the truth. And we cannot look at them today as young men. They are the successors of the old men and the children of the old men who were killed.
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    And in final summary of what I had to say today because my material is presented to you in toto, I do feel that the spirit of Norway should be a spirit that reigns throughout Europe. The King of Norway signed a declaration so that every Norwegian child knows that Norway was a country which allowed quislings to operate. The King of Sweden announced to every person, as Eizenstat said, but more important, he put a book in every child's home knowing that that country behaved in a manner through which 2.5 million people in Nazi uniforms were able to cross a neutral country's territory with no one speaking up against it. And today he said, ''Mea maxima culpa,'' ''We are sorry, we are very sorry.'' Those ''I am sorry's'' are worth more than all the money that is being given back because they're educational. And those are what we are seeking. It's not just throwing money on the table. It's not this effort that we're participating in with regard to heirless property that merely restitutes, but it also makes whole the people whose lives were destroyed, who were butchered, and whose children were left without parents and without homesteads.
    You have changed history and are helping us to change history. Weakening resolve at this moment, after so much hasn't been achieved, by either our government or by the Houses of Congress would be something which we could not countenance and shall not permit.
    We want to thank you, sir, for holding this hearing and we want to encourage the U.S. Government to continue to be as firm as it was when this process started, and to thank the President of the United States and Senator D'Amato for keeping a watchful eye, along with yourself and your colleagues. But we want to tell you that we will continue to pursue this and to watch it, and when Poland does not respond and when the Czech Republic does not respond and hides behind the cloak of the fact that there are Jews who have not gotten a complete unity of spirit on this subject because the local Jewish fledgling community is being encouraged to cooperate with the government sometimes and not restitute the property to those people, hundreds of thousands of whom don't live in Poland today, we should not take their side for bilateral comfort and bilateral relations which are acceptable.
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    We shall continue to watch this and continue to speak out wherever is necessary. And we thank you, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Dr. Singer, for your kind remarks and also for your very strong statement which I know will be appreciated by my colleagues as they review the testimony.
    We will now hear from Benjamin Meed, president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Mr. Meed, please proceed.
    Mr. MEED. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For the record, I would like to say that I am the president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, and I am a volunteer. I have never accepted anything or any pay in my entire service at the Gathering.
    I just arrived from Poland and Czechoslovakia where I spent 1 month in Israel, where I spent 1 month with American teachers, 407 teachers which we are bringing to Europe and to Israel to study the Holocaust. And by now, after 14 years, we have 650 alumni teachers which went through our program. And we recognize how important education is.
    Mr. Chairman, I will not go into my personal life, you know I've resided in the United States 53 years, came to this country with my wife, penniless, but if $8 means money, I came with $8 for both of us. We rebuilt here our lives. We are proud parents now of two children, both born in the United States, Anna and Steven. Both physicians and both married to two physicians.
    During the Holocaust, like many others, I spent 1,000 nights in the Warsaw ghetto and many days as a slave laborer for German Nazis. It was my destiny to become a member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw Ghetto and I was actively involved in the activities of Jewish resistance.
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    I saw with my own eyes the misery of the ghetto, which I was fortunate to survive. I vividly recall the streets and the ghetto filled with dead bodies of Jews who died from illness, starvation, and despair, awaiting to be buried, without their names in mass graves.
    My personal experience is not so singular. I speak to you as president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, a representative body of Holocaust survivors living in the United States. Our records in our national registry of the Jewish Holocaust survivors which we compiled in cooperation with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is now over 110,000 names, not only names and pictures but full records of the survivors. Men and women who went through the Holocaust and emerged when they came to these shores to rebuild their lives and freedom.
    Each of us has a story to tell, one filled with anguish and pain. A few can speak of heroism and rescue. All survivors speak of evil and of abandonment by the world.
    The murder of the Jews was shrouded in such silence. Those who knew did not speak, and the rest who knew and they learned the Final Solution much before we knew about it, sat quietly, did not do anything with their knowledge. They did not act until it was too late. And they did not speak out while there was still time.
    During the last 53 years, we survivors, and especially I speak about the United States, were deeply engaged in a singular mission, those we left behind commended us, remember. Do not forget. Do not let the world forget. The Holocaust was a Jewish tragedy. The survivors wanted to tell the world that it has a universal significance that the unthinkable, the unimaginable can happen again. Therefore, we all must be on guard. We have built memorials, institutions. We have written books, recorded testimonies, spoken to school and civil gatherings. We pleaded, do not let the world forget.
    While we were rebuilding our shattered lives, we could not and did not think about material losses but the annihilation of our people. Genocide was the crime we remembered. But the Holocaust was only the world's greatest crime. We all know about this. But also the world must know and knows by now that it was the greatest human robbery. The theft of our material possessions involved Germany, but also all other nations who cooperated and other people who benefited long after the war.
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    Today, I have the privilege to testify before you, appealing to you to assist us. I think it's the greatest honor for me that I can speak right now among these walls who can listen to me about my people who perished.
    I have a privilege to testify I say before you, but I am appealing to you to assist us. Proud citizens of the United States in great numbers, whom you know many of them, in our efforts we obtained those properties which belonged to our people and remain unclaimed because their owners did not survive. They did not emerge from the darkness. Let us not abandon them as victims again. Let us remember our lesson from the time of the Holocaust. Let us not kill the people again. As deeply as I know anything, we know that no material claim for any return of heirless property will ever replace our losses. Certainly, not in human terms and not even in material terms. The Bible teaches us that you cannot murder and loot and still retain the benefits of your crime.
    On behalf of my fellow Holocaust survivors, men and women now in the twilight of their lives, I appeal to you, this distinguished body, to put your authority and your moral weight behind us, Americans, Holocaust survivors, in our struggle to regain but a fraction of what was lost.
    And to conclude, Mr. Singer, Dr. Singer mentioned already, that it took me 50 years to go back to Germany. And I was traveling almost every year to Europe, but I never went to Germany. Many like me did the same. I couldn't make it. I have nothing against the young German people, but I couldn't go back to Germany. But as my duty, under the chairmanship of Dr. Singer, of the negotiating committee in Germany, I went there and I must say that we achieved an awful lot.
    I give you one example. There were German rules that if you earn Social Security in the United States for your sweat and work in this country, you have to report this as your income and then you're not qualified because you make too much money. Thank God, we succeeded. Social Security is not going to be counted as income any more for us.
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    There are many things which could be done. We are in our last stage of our lives. We would like to, as Americans and others from other countries, make a trip to Germany and to other countries. This time we will ask people to come to Germany. And I think there is today an atmosphere in Germany of the young people of those who were born after the war who want to listen to us and are interested. We would like to have a special committee going to Germany, but we would like to go together with you. We would like to invite a committee of the Congress, especially your committee, to join us on a fact-finding trip in the last stage of Holocaust survivors. I would be grateful if this could be accepted.
    At this point, I would like to say that I thank Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State, for his leadership and outstanding efforts on behalf of the Holocaust survivors. We would like to thank the World Jewish Congress and the World Restitution, especially those who are present here, Dr. Israel Singer and Elan Steinberg, for their constant work and preparations for Holocaust survivors. Yes, history will write the truth, what that group of people did. I'm glad also that I had the representative sitting together with me, member of the Knesset, Avraham Hirschson, with whom we coordinate our efforts and together with them achieve good results.
    Mr. Chairman, all of us are vitally interested in the work of your committee. We commend you. We commend you for things which you did loudly and for things which you did in a quiet way. We appreciate this. Please accept through me sincere thanks from so many which are waiting to hear from you.
    Thank you.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Meed appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Benjamin Meed for your wonderful statement and very poignant remarks, and your kind remarks, and for your invitation to go with you one day to Germany, we ought to work together and see if that can be worked out. We'd look forward to it. We also want to thank you for coming to the Capitol each year on Yom Hashoa to remind our Members of Congress of the tragedy of the Holocaust, and for your participation in organizing that effort year after year for which we want to commend you.
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    I want to commend, too, the other members of our panel. Again, Chairman Hirschson for traveling from Israel to be here and Dr. Singer for his continual efforts.
    Let me ask just a few questions but first I'm going to yield to our steadfast Member who is here today, Roy Blunt. Congressman Blunt.
    Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll limit my questions as well. We appreciate the testimony, both the written testimony and the testimony here today. And I know many Members will look at that. Dr. Singer and Mr. Meed, could you tell me did you have any input on this newly created U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission? Did either or both of you have a chance to have input on that commission as it was created?
    Mr. SINGER. Yes, we've been discussing this with the executive branch and at the very outset we had some opportunities to discuss it with the legislative branch as well. We hope and trust that our input will be continuous even when this commission will be doing its work. Because, frankly, it is going to be the product of an effort which we instituted together with—and here I say this in all seriousness with the Government of Israel and the Government of the United States who had the greatest participation in this and Chairman Hirschson's committee has continued to carry us as have these committees here in Congress. But now there's a formal body that will be producing formal bodies of writing. We trust and hope that this will not be running off on its own but we'll continue to discuss these matters before they put into stone whatever they have got.
    Mr. BLUNT. What's the single most important piece of advice you have for that commission?
    Mr. SINGER. That everybody be looked upon in effect as I would say not guilty at the outset but that all persons search themselves—these are truth commissions everywhere in the world wherever they are being studied, wherever they're studying themselves. In many cases, of course, these are white-washes. I come from a 60's background in this country. America is the great country that it is and the leader in the democratic world and the only superpower because it looks at itself with a very, very critical eye and has successfully done that. If we don't do that in this commission, we will have failed our citizens. I think we won't. But we can't do what other countries do in their commissions on this subject and in other commissions.
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    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Chairman, we have a vote on the floor and I think you may possibly have a vote in another committee here so I'm going to go ahead and defer to you for your questions.
    Chairman GILMAN. Well, thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Blunt. Again, I want to thank you for your patience in being here with us throughout the hearing.
    Mr. MEED. I would like to add, you asked how I feel about that commission, I think that that commission is a very important commission to come, it should have come 25 years earlier but it's good that we have it now. But that commission should definitely ask me myself, I don't know if it will be myself, but should include Holocaust survivors.
    And let me tell you just one—I'll take another minute. At the negotiations in Germany, which I participated in, under the chairmanship of Israel Singer, at one point we were told, we were only told about how bad the economy is in Germany. We had pity with that, but a dollar for an hour's work for a laborer was a pitiful way for Germany today. And I can remind Germany that when I was the first time here in your country and I want to tell you that I'm responsible for your rebuilding. I am the American who came to the United States and I pay the taxes so that you could have a Marshall Plan and that we should help you. And don't forget about this. It was my taxes and my other fellows' taxes.
    The second thing I told them also. You are very much a country of documentation and some of your documents include probably everything. I would like to know how many undocumented paintings are adorning today Germany and other countries for which you don't have any documentation? At the end I added, it is not like it was 55 years ago. I was born in Poland. And I loved that country. But I had no meaning in that country. But I came to the United States and I am not here because I'm a Jewish Holocaust survivor. I came here as an American taxpayer. And I demand from you your action. We already told them it's not like it was. Today, behind us is a Congress and a Government of the United States which looks differently. That made the difference. If they will feel that we have you at our side, things will be changed.
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    Thank you.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Meed. I'm going to ask that the record show that we are submitting a statement on behalf of Congressman Smith who was unable to be present today because he had a conflict, and he has pertinent testimony with regard to the heirless property issue and asked that it be submitted for the record.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Smith appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. I'm also going to inform our witnesses that there may be some questions submitted after the hearing by some of our Members. I hope you will be able to respond to those questions.
    Can you tell me what efforts are underway to preserve property related to documents and evidence, and to coordinate all the claims that are being submitted? Are there some joint efforts being made to preserve this factual information? I ask any of the panelists, Chairman Hirschson, Dr. Singer, and Mr. Meed. But I want to caution you. We have only a few minutes before we have to go to the floor to vote so we will have to end the hearing soon. So if you could be brief, it would be appreciated.
    Mr. SINGER. There are many efforts being made, particularly in Israel but as well here in the United States. This effort alone has had one great, great achievement in that 15 million documents have been brought out through the work done by Secretary Eizenstat because we were creating this pressure over the last 3 years. The entire history of the world with regard to the last 50 years, and certainly with regard to World War II has changed as a result of this. So, (a) that preservation program is on.
    (b) With regard to the preservation program in Israel, Yad Vashem has produced, the National Holocaust Museum in Israel, has produced an entirely new program of basing the claims that we make on materials that they have already found and that we're seeking to find and that preservation program is on.
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    And, last, Ben Meed, being in charge of the U.S. Holocaust Museum authority here, is doing precisely the same thing here in getting the cooperation.
    But one thing that Hirschson is doing and as a legislator you'll know. I have a fear every time I go to Israel that he's going to continue to introduce me to his constituents who come with pleas that he described in his testimony, whole sheaths of material that is producing an entire archive that would never have been produced had people like himself and his colleagues not been producing it. The entire period and the entire history of that period is one that is going to be changed. Books will be written. Doctorates will be gotten and we will have a new optic of that period.
    I thank you again for the last 3 years. We couldn't have done it without you, Mr. Chairman. We did it because of you, and we'll continue to call on you.
    Chairman GILMAN. Just one last question of our panelists, and I thank you, Dr. Singer, for your response and kind remarks. What more can the Congress do to be of assistance on this issue? Can each one of you state that very quickly? Chairman Hirschson.
    Mr. MEED. I would say it in one word. Be with us.
    Chairman GILMAN. We will be with you, I assure you. Dr. Singer. Chairman Hirschson.
    Mr. SINGER. Yes, my request to you, sir, that we continue looking at the shopping list, the list that we got from Stuart Eizenstat. We check it out with regard to Poland, whether they did enact a law, whether they do require people to be citizens to be able to get their restitution, whether we have that in Holland, whether we have that in France. And, finally, that we have another hearing, sir, because these hearings are kinds of benchmarks for progress.
    Chairman GILMAN. We'll want to do that.
    Mr. SINGER. Every time Debbie calls us, people are afraid.
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    Chairman GILMAN. We'll want to do that before we wind up this 105th session.
    Mr. SINGER. Great.
    Chairman GILMAN. Dr. Hirschson, any closing remarks?
    Mr. HIRSCHSON. You cannot even imagine how much influence your committee and the Congress have on the world about these subjects, and I would like that we'll share ideas, we'll share activities, and I think it will help a lot.
    Chairman GILMAN. We'd like to do that with you and we look forward to working together with all of you. Again, we can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and your willingness to testify before our committee.
    I regret that we're being called to the floor to vote or we'd continue on even longer. Accordingly, the Committee will stand adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 12:17 p.m., the Committee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]


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