Holocaust Meeting Focuses on Jews' Assets

By Barber, Ben | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

Holocaust Meeting Focuses on Jews' Assets


Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Delegates from 45 nations gathered in Washington yesterday to try to forge a consensus on providing restitution for thousands of pieces of Jewish art, property and other assets seized by the Nazis.

The conference opened last night with a silent ceremony at the Holocaust Museum last night in which survivor Benjamin Meed and his granddaughter led a procession of delegates in laying white roses before an eternal flame.

Then Elie Wiesel, a Nobel peace laureate and Auschwitz survivor, asked why it took so long for the assets issue to be raised.

"We feel reticent to talk about it even now," he said, blaming it on fear of tainting the sacred memory of the dead and of raising anti-Semitism.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, in remarks to open the four-day meeting, described the conference as a "landmark event."

"In fact, it may well represent the last full opportunity for the international community to gather and write the final chapter in the unfinished business of perhaps the greatest human tragedy of this or any other century," he said.

The conference opened last night with a ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which commemorates millions of lives lost to the Nazis in World War II.

Mr. Eizenstat, a driving force behind the Holocaust assets campaign, said future generations have an "abiding responsibility" to ensure the memory of those who died by Nazi hands "is seared into the collective memory of the world's conscience."

The focus of the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets was on efforts to identify looted paintings and other art and property seized by Nazis from Jews as they were sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

It has taken 50 years since the end of the war for the start of a concentrated effort led by the United States to open up archives and delve into the massive looting of European Jews that was part of the genocide of the Holocaust. …

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