[105th Congress Public Law 158]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ158.105]

[[Page 112 STAT. 15]]

Public Law 105-158
105th Congress

                                 An Act

 To provide redress for inadequate restitution of assets seized by the 
 United States Government during World War II which belonged to victims 
 of the Holocaust, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Feb. 13, 1998 -  [S. 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Holocaust Victims Redress 
Act.>>  assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Holocaust Victims Redress Act''.

                        TITLE I--HEIRLESS ASSETS


    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds as follows:
            (1) Among the $198,000,000 in German assets located in the 
        United States and seized by the United States Government in 
        World War II were believed to be bank accounts, trusts, 
        securities, or other assets belonging to Jewish victims of the 
            (2) Among an estimated $1,200,000,000 in assets of Swiss 
        nationals and institutions which were frozen by the United 
        States Government during World War II (including over 
        $400,000,000 in bank deposits) were assets whose beneficial 
        owners were believed to include victims of the Holocaust.
            (3) In the aftermath of the war, the Congress recognized 
        that some of the victims of the Holocaust whose assets were 
        among those seized or frozen during the war might not have any 
        legal heirs, and legislation was enacted to authorize the 
        transfer of up to $3,000,000 of such assets to organizations 
        dedicated to providing relief and rehabilitation for survivors 
        of the Holocaust.
            (4) Although the Congress and the Administration authorized 
        the transfer of such amount to the relief organizations referred 
        to in paragraph (3), the enormous administrative difficulties 
        and cost involved in proving legal ownership of such assets, 
        directly or beneficially, by victims of the Holocaust, and 
        proving the existence or absence of heirs of such victims, led 
        the Congress in 1962 to agree to a lump-sum settlement and to 
        provide $500,000 for the Jewish Restitution Successor 
        Organization of New York, such sum amounting to \1/6\th of the 
        authorized maximum level of ``heirless'' assets to be 

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            (5) In June of 1997, a representative of the Secretary of 
        State, in testimony before the Congress, urged the 
        reconsideration of the limited $500,000 settlement.
            (6) While a precisely accurate accounting of ``heirless'' 
        assets may be impossible, good conscience warrants the 
        recognition that the victims of the Holocaust have a compelling 
        moral claim to the unrestituted portion of assets referred to in 
        paragraph (3).
            (7) Furthermore, leadership by the United States in meeting 
        obligations to Holocaust victims would strengthen--
                    (A) the efforts of the United States to press for 
                the speedy distribution of the remaining nearly 6 metric 
                tons of gold still held by the Tripartite Commission for 
                the Restitution of Monetary Gold (the body established 
                by France, Great Britain, and the United States at the 
                end of World War II to return gold looted by Nazi 
                Germany to the central banks of countries occupied by 
                Germany during the war); and
                    (B) the appeals by the United States to the 15 
                nations claiming a portion of such gold to contribute a 
                substantial portion of any such distribution to 
                Holocaust survivors in recognition of the recently 
                documented fact that the gold held by the Commission 
                includes gold stolen from individual victims of the 

    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are as follows:
            (1) To provide a measure of justice to survivors of the 
        Holocaust all around the world while they are still alive.
            (2) To authorize the appropriation of an amount which is at 
        least equal to the present value of the difference between the 
        amount which was authorized to be transferred to successor 
        organizations to compensate for assets in the United States of 
        heirless victims of the Holocaust and the amount actually paid 
        in 1962 to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization of New 
        York for that purpose.
            (3) To facilitate efforts by the United States to seek an 
        agreement whereby nations with claims against gold held by the 
        Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold would 
        contribute all, or a substantial portion, of that gold to 
        charitable organizations to assist survivors of the Holocaust.


    (a) Directions to the President.--The President shall direct the 
commissioner representing the United States on the Tripartite Commission 
for the Restitution of Monetary Gold, established pursuant to Part III 
of the Paris Agreement on Reparation, to seek and vote for a timely 
agreement under which all signatories to the Paris Agreement on 
Reparation, with claims against the monetary gold pool in the 
jurisdiction of such Commission, contribute all, or a substantial 
portion, of such gold to charitable organizations to assist survivors of 
the Holocaust.
    (b) Authority To Obligate the United States.--
            (1) In general.--From funds otherwise unobligated in the 
        Treasury of the United States, the President is authorized to 
        obligate subject to paragraph (2) an amount not to exceed 
        $30,000,000 for distribution in accordance with subsections (a) 
        and (b).

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            (2) Conformance with budget act requirement.--Any budget 
        authority contained in paragraph (1) shall be effective only to 
        such extent and in such amounts as are provided in advance in 
        appropriation Acts.


    (a) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to the President such sums as may be necessary for fiscal 
years 1998, 1999, and 2000, not to exceed a total of $25,000,000 for all 
such fiscal years, for distribution to organizations as may be specified 
in any agreement concluded pursuant to section 102.
    (b) Archival Research.--There are authorized to be appropriated to 
the President $5,000,000 for archival research and translation services 
to assist in the restitution of assets looted or extorted from victims 
of the Holocaust and such other activities that would further Holocaust 
remembrance and education.

                         TITLE II--WORKS OF ART


    Congress finds as follows:
            (1) Established pre-World War II principles of international 
        law, as enunciated in Articles 47 and 56 of the Regulations 
        annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws 
        and Customs of War on Land, prohibited pillage and the seizure 
        of works of art.
            (2) In the years since World War II, international sanctions 
        against confiscation of works of art have been amplified through 
        such conventions as the 1970 Convention on the Means of 
        Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and 
        Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which forbids the 
        illegal export of art work and calls for its earliest possible 
        restitution to its rightful owner.
            (3) In defiance of the 1907 Hague Convention, the Nazis 
        extorted and looted art from individuals and institutions in 
        countries it occupied during World War II and used such booty to 
        help finance their war of aggression.
            (4) The Nazis' policy of looting art was a critical element 
        and incentive in their campaign of genocide against individuals 
        of Jewish and other religious and cultural heritage and, in this 
        context, the Holocaust, while standing as a civil war against 
        defined individuals and civilized values, must be considered a 
        fundamental aspect of the world war unleashed on the continent.
            (5) Hence, the same international legal principles applied 
        among states should be applied to art and other assets stolen 
        from victims of the Holocaust.
            (6) In the aftermath of the war, art and other assets were 
        transferred from territory previously controlled by the Nazis to 
        the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, much of which has not 
        been returned to rightful owners.


    It is the sense of the Congress that consistent with the 1907 Hague 
Convention, all governments should undertake good faith

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efforts to facilitate the return of private and public property, such as 
works of art, to the rightful owners in cases where assets were 
confiscated from the claimant during the period of Nazi rule and there 
is reasonable proof that the claimant is the rightful owner.

    Approved February 13, 1998.


                                                        Vol. 143 (1997):
                                    Nov. 13, considered and passed 
                                                        Vol. 144 (1998):
                                    Jan. 27, considered and passed 
            Feb. 13, Presidential statement.