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Oct 2003 Journal

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East German property list to be published

After several years of equivocation and following recent requests from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the New York-based Claims Conference has agreed to publish a list of properties and other assets once owned by Jewish families in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Following German unification in 1990, the Claims Conference, acting in its role as the Successor Organisation, negotiated for the rights of Jewish property owners and their heirs to file ownership applications. Despite a two-year period during which applications were to be made, on its expiry at the end of 1992 many properties remained unclaimed.

The Claims Conference eventually introduced a 'Goodwill Fund' through which eligible applicants who missed the original submission deadline would be entitled to compensation. However, 20 per cent of the value of the property, or the value of its sale, is retained. Through the Goodwill Fund, revenues raised via the sale of heirless properties have already enabled the Claims Conference to disburse some $160 million in payments, and a further $150 million has been set aside to meet pending and future claims.

Publication of the remaining list of Jewish-owned properties in the former East Germany will offer rightful heirs a final opportunity to submit applications in respect of their family's assets, though a six-month time limit for claims from the date of the list's publication is to be imposed. The list of properties will be made available on the Claims Conference website: www.claimscon.org. Applications should be submitted to the Successor Organisation at 26 Sophienstrasse, 60487 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Michael Newman

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