A campaign is being launched in North America to locate the heirs to Israeli assets originally purchased by Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, hundreds of European Jews invested in what was then Palestine. Following World War II, many of the assets were never claimed. Included in these assets are untouched plots of land, unclaimed bank accounts and shares from the Jewish Colonial Trust – the parent company of the Anglo Palestine Bank which later became Bank Leumi – as well as other Israeli financial institutions.
The Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets, which is launching the campaign, has compiled lists of these assets and is working to make the process of returning the belongings to their beneficiaries as easy as possible. Ads calling on the heirs to come forward will run in Jewish newspapers in North America and on Jewish Web sites. It is believed that many of the investors or their descendants made their way to the United States following the war.
Set up by the State of Israel, the Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets was established in 2006 to provide historical justice to the victims of the Holocaust and reinstate the assets with their legal heirs. Its establishment followed criticism of Israel for not doing enough to find the rightful heirs of Israeli assets. There are currently some 55,000 unclaimed assets on the organization’s list.
The organization’s Web site, Hashava.org.il, contains additional information on submitting an application to request restitution of an asset on the list.