Text: S.1876 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (12/20/2001)

[Congressional Bills 107th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 1876 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

  1st Session
                                S. 1876

 To establish a National Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Assets.



            December 20 (legislative day, December 18), 2001

   Mrs. Clinton (for herself, Mr. Smith of Oregon, Mr. Stevens, Mr. 
    Specter, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Schumer, and Mr. Dodd) 
introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the 
            Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs


                                 A BILL

 To establish a National Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Assets.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Holocaust Victims' Assets, 
Restitution Policy, and Remembrance Act''.


    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The United States should continue to lead the 
        international effort to identify, protect, and return looted 
        assets taken by the Nazis and their collaborators from victims 
        of the Holocaust.
            (2) The citizens of the United States should understand 
        exactly how the United States Government dealt with the assets 
        looted from victims of the Nazis that came into its possession.
            (3) The United States forces in Europe made extraordinary 
        efforts to locate and restitute assets taken by the Nazis and 
        their collaborators from victims of the Holocaust.
            (4) However, the restitution policy formulated by the 
        United States and implemented in the countries in Europe 
        occupied by the United States had many inadequacies and fell 
        short of realizing the goal of returning stolen property to the 
            (5) As a result of these United States policies and their 
        implementation, there remain today many survivors or heirs of 
        survivors who have not had restored to them that which the 
        Nazis looted.
            (6) The Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust 
        Assets in the United States, established in Public Law 105-186, 
        found the following:
                    (A) The United States authorities generally 
                restituted those victims' assets that came under United 
                States control to the national government of their 
                country of origin. In these cases the recipient 
                government bore the responsibility to locate the 
                rightful owner and to restitute the property turned 
                over to it by United States authorities. The Commission 
                found little evidence of efforts by these countries to 
                effect restitution and no evidence that the United 
                States monitored the recipient countries' compliance 
                with these responsibilities.
                    (B) The policy explained in subparagraph (A) 
                excluded those who no longer had a nation to represent 
                their interests, or who had fallen victim to the 
                ruthless efficiency of Nazi genocide and whose property 
                had been rendered heirless and unidentifiable. For 
                those cases, the United States designated ``successor 
                organizations'' to sell heirless and unclaimed property 
                and apply the proceeds to the care, resettlement, and 
                rehabilitation of victims. The adoption of this policy 
                led to many assets being too hastily labeled as 
                heirless or unidentifiable, with the result that they 
                were assigned to the successor organizations rather 
                than to the individuals themselves.
                    (C) The United States military government 
                established strict deadlines that created narrow 
                windows for filing petitions for restitution and 
                prevented many rightful owners from asserting their 
                    (D) Even when property was returned to individual 
                owners or their heirs, it was often only after 
                protracted, cumbersome, and expensive administrative 
                proceedings that yielded settlements far less than the 
                full value of the assets concerned.
                    (E) Better policy implementation in Germany and 
                Austria would have prevented identifiable victims' 
                assets from being stored in disorganized and poorly 
                secured military warehouses and facilities where they 
                were occasionally subject to theft and requisitioning 
                by United States servicemen and civilian employees.
                    (F) In 1953, a Senate judiciary subcommittee 
                delving into the activities of the United States Office 
                of Alien Property (OAP) criticized the agency for 
                lacking good business practices in the way it handled 
                the assets under its control. The subcommittee 
                particularly singled out the ``inefficient and 
                dilatory'' manner in which claims were processed. Of 
                approximately 15,000 title claims only about 6,000 had 
                been processed.
                    (G) Congress regarded frozen German assets as a 
                source from which to pay United States war claims for 
                damages suffered by American businesses and 
                individuals. The United States War Claims Commission 
                received more than $200,000,000 from liquidated German 
                and Japanese assets. Thus, United States war claims 
                were paid in part by German assets that likely included 
                victims' assets.
            (7) The United States Government should redress and improve 
        upon the results that that occurred as a result of the policies 
        it established to assist the victims or their heirs to recover 
        property stolen from them during the Nazi regime.
            (8) The best way to improve upon these results is to create 
        a single institution to serve as a centralized repository for 
        research and information about Holocaust-era assets.
            (9) Enhancing these policies will also assist victims of 
        future armed conflicts around the world.
            (10) The conference on Material Claims Against Germany has 
        worked since 1951 with the Government of the United States and 
        with other governments to accomplish material restitution of 
the looted assets of Holocaust victims, wherever those assets were 
identified, and has played a major role in allocating unclaimed 
restitution funds, including funds contributed by the United States, to 
the Nazi Persecutee Relief Fund.


    (a) Establishment.--There is established as an independent entity 
of the executive branch of the United States Government the National 
Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Assets (in this Act referred to 
as the ``Foundation'').
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of the Foundation are--
            (1) to serve as a centralized repository for research and 
        information about Holocaust-era assets by--
                    (A) compiling and publishing a comprehensive report 
                that integrates and supplements where necessary the 
                research on Holocaust-era assets prepared by various 
                countries' commissions on the Holocaust;
                    (B) working with the Department of State's Special 
                Envoy for Holocaust Issues to review the degree to 
                which foreign governments have implemented the 
                principles adopted at the Washington Conference on 
                Holocaust-era Assets and the Vilnius International 
                Forum on Holocaust-era Looted Cultural Property, and 
                should encourage the signatories that have not yet 
                implemented those principles to do so; and
                    (C) collecting and disseminating information about 
                restitution programs around the world;
            (2) to create tools to assist individuals and institutions 
        to determine the ownership of Holocaust victims' assets and to 
        enable claimants to obtain the speedy resolution of their 
        personal property claims by--
                    (A) ensuring the implementation of the agreements 
                entered into by the Presidential Advisory Commission on 
                Holocaust Assets in the United States with the American 
                Association of Museums and the Association of Art 
                Museum Directors to provide for the establishment and 
                maintenance of a searchable central registry of 
                Holocaust-era cultural property in the United States, 
                beginning with European paintings and Judaica;
                    (B) funding grants to museums, libraries, 
                universities, and other institutions that hold 
                Holocaust-era cultural property and adhere to the 
                agreements referred to in subparagraph (A), to conduct 
                provenance research;
                    (C) encouraging the creation and maintenance of 
                mechanisms such as a computerized, searchable database 
                of Holocaust victims' claims for the restitution of 
                personal property;
                    (D) funding a cross match of records developed by 
                the 50 States of escheated property from the Holocaust 
                era against databases of victims' names and publicizing 
                the results of this effort;
                    (E) assisting State governments in the preservation 
                and automation of records of unclaimed property that 
                may include Holocaust-era property; and
                    (F) regularly publishing lists of Holocaust-era 
                artworks returned to claimants by museums in the United 
            (3) to work with private sector institutions to develop and 
        promote common standards and best practices for research and 
        information gathering on Holocaust-era assets by--
                    (A) promoting and monitoring banks' implementation 
                of the suggested best practices developed by the 
                Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in 
                the United States and the New York Bankers' 
                Association; and
                    (B) promoting the development of common standards 
                and best practices for research by United States 
                corporations into their records concerning whether they 
                conducted business with Nazi Germany in the period 
                preceding the onset of hostilities in December 1941; 
            (4) other purposes the Board considers appropriate.


    (a) Membership and Terms.--The Foundation shall have a Board of 
Directors (in this Act referred to as the ``Board''), which shall 
consist of 17 members, each of whom shall be a United States citizen.
    (b) Appointment.--Members of the Board shall be appointed as 
            (1) Nine members of the Board shall be individuals 
        appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent 
        of the Senate.
            (2) Eight members of the Board shall be individuals 
        appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent 
of the Senate, after consideration of the recommendations of the 
Congressional leadership, as follows:
                    (A) Two members each shall be appointed after 
                consideration of the recommendations of the Majority 
                Leader of the Senate and after consideration of the 
                recommendations of the Minority Leader of the Senate.
                    (B) Two members each shall be appointed after 
                consideration of the recommendations of the Speaker of 
                the House of Representatives and after consideration of 
                the recommendations of the Minority Leader of the House 
                of Representatives.
    (c) Chairman.--The President shall appoint a Chair from among the 
members of the Board.
    (d) Quorum and Voting.--A majority of the membership of the Board 
shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Voting shall 
be by simple majority of those members voting.
    (e) Meetings and Consultations.--The Board shall meet at the call 
of the Chairman at least twice a year. Where appropriate, members of 
the Board shall consult with relevant agencies of the Federal 
Government, and with the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and 
    (f) Reimbursements.--Members of the Board shall serve without pay, 
but shall be reimbursed for the actual and necessary traveling and 
subsistence expenses incurred by them in the performance of the duties 
of the Foundation.


    (a) Executive Director.--The Foundation shall have an Executive 
Director appointed by the Board and such other officers as the Board 
may appoint. The Executive Director and the other officers of the 
Foundation shall be compensated at rates fixed by the Board and shall 
serve at the pleasure of the Board.
    (b) Employees.--Subject to the approval of the Board, the 
Foundation may employ such individuals at such rates of compensation as 
the Executive Director determines appropriate.
    (c) Volunteers.--Subject to the approval of the Board, the 
Foundation may accept the services of volunteers in the performance of 
the functions of the Foundation.


    The Foundation--
            (1) may conduct business in the United States and abroad;
            (2) shall have its principal offices in the District of 
        Columbia or its environs; and
            (3) shall have the power--
                    (A) to accept, receive, solicit, hold, administer, 
                and use any gift, devise, or bequest, either absolutely 
                or in trust, of real or personal property or any income 
                therefrom or other interest therein;
                    (B) to acquire by purchase or exchange any real or 
                personal property or interest therein;
                    (C) to sell, donate, lease, invest, reinvest, 
                retain, or otherwise dispose of any real or personal 
                property or income therefrom;
                    (D) to enter into contracts or other arrangements 
                with public agencies, private organizations, and other 
                persons, and to make such payments as may be necessary 
                to carry out its purposes; and
                    (E) to do any and all acts necessary and proper to 
                carry out the purposes of the Foundation.


    The Foundation shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each 
fiscal year, transmit to Congress a report of its proceedings and 
activities during that fiscal year, including a full and complete 
statement of its receipts, expenditures, and investments, and a 
description of all acquisition and disposal of real property.


     The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Education, the 
Secretary of State, and the heads of any other Federal agencies may 
provide personnel, facilities, and other administrative services to the 


     The Foundation shall exist until September 30, 2011, at which time 
the Foundation's functions and research materials and products shall be 
transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, or to other 
appropriate entities, as determined by the Board.


    (a) Authorization.--There are authorized to be appropriated to the 
Foundation such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act.
    (b) Limitation.--No funds appropriated to carry out this Act may be 
used to pay attorneys fees in the pursuit of private claims.