Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy

Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy

Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy

Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy


Holocaust Restitution is the first volume to present the Holocaust restitution movement directly from the viewpoints of the various parties involved in the campaigns and settlements. Now that the Holocaust restitution claims are closed, this work enjoys the benefits of hindsight to provide a definitive assessment of the movement.

From lawyers and State Department officials to survivors and heads of key institutes involved in the negotiations, the volume brings together the central players in the Holocaust restitution movement, both pro and con. The volume examines the claims against European banks and against Germany and Austria relating to forced labor, insurance claims, and looted art claims. It considers their significance, their legacy, and the moral issues involved in seeking and receiving restitution.

Contributors: Roland Bank, Michael Berenbaum, Lee Boyd, Thomas Buergenthal, Monica S. Dugot, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Eric Freedman and Richard Weisberg, Si Frumkin, Peter Hayes, Kai Henning, Roman Kent, Lawrence Kill and Linda Gerstel, Edward R. Korman, Otto Graf Lambsdorff, David A. Lash and Mitchell A. Kamin, Hannah Lessing and Fiorentina Azizi, Burt Neuborne, Owen C. Pell, Morris Ratner and Caryn Becker, Shimon Samuels, E. Randol Schoenberg, William Z. Slany, Howard N. Spiegler, Deborah Sturman, Robert A. Swift, Gideon Taylor, Lothar Ulsamer, Melvyn I. Weiss, Roger M. Witten, Sidney Zabludoff, and Arie Zuckerman.


Michael J. Bazyler and Roger P. Alford

Holocaust restitution is not about money. It is about victims. It is about individuals who have waited sixty years for something. Of course it is not about “perfect justice,” a phrase that may never pass one’s lips in the same breath as “Holocaust.” But it is about waiting for some recognition, some voucher to validate the misdeeds that have been perpetrated.

Excerpts from the letters of one claimant appearing before the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland give voice to this yearning for recognition:

We had not been able to locate [my grandfather’s] personal account. My
grandmother tried on several occasions, without success. She gave up in
quiet desperation. Sometimes not so quiet. There were a lot of tears. She
felt betrayed and deceived, frustrated and powerless. You see, she knew
money had been put into Swiss accounts, but she had no power to open the

I look at the amount of money now in the account, and I see how little
money it is. So little for so much grief! Inconsolable grief. But I also have to
remember that in the refugee camps we had nothing, not even a pair of
shoes. We ate black bread and lard for months and were lucky to have it. So
this money, which I now think of as a little amount, at that time in history,
fifty years ago, was indeed a good sum. …

My grandmother never dreamed, nor did I, that this moment in history
would come. Who could have known. I thought about not pursuing this
claim. I said it’s not worth it. But I changed my mind. I have to do this for
my grandmother, even though she is dead. For her suffering, for her pain,
for her incredible losses. I owe her memory. To pursue and possibly attain
the impossible. To be validated! This small amount of money represents

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