The vast majority of property stolen from Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators has never been returned, leaving between $115 billion and $175 billion in assets still missing, according to a new study. The study, details of which were given to The Associated Press on Friday, shows that affected Jews and their heirs have received just a fifth of the wealth that was stolen from them during World War II.
The study was compiled by the economist Sidney Zabludoff, a former CIA and U.S. Treasury official, and is to appear in the April issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review, a journal published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israeli think tank.
Zabludoff’s research showed that before the war, Jews owned property in Europe that was worth between $10 billion and $15 billion at the time.
Despite “numerous clear and explicit international agreements and country promises made during World War II and immediately thereafter,” most of it is still missing, he writes.
The issue of restitution faded in the 1970s but rose again in the 1990s, most prominently when Swiss banks were criticized for allegedly stealing, concealing or handing the Nazis millions of dollars worth of Jewish holdings. The banks agreed in 1998 to pay $1.25 billion on dormant accounts.
An Israeli government report released two years ago estimated material damages to the Jewish people from the Holocaust at $240 billion to $330 billion. That report factored in lost income as well as unpaid wages from forced Jewish labor.
Most of the assets restored to survivors and Jewish organizations was returned by European governments in the years immediately following the war. Some of the unreturned property was destroyed in the fighting or liquidated by the Germans.