05 May 2011

Holocaust: New victims' assets database

A comprehensive archive of Jewish Holocaust victims' assets has been made public. The searchable, user-friendly database - known as Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce) - will help victims and heirs reacquire losses.

The database may also assist genealogists and family history researchers to learn more about their families.

The database includes property addresses, insurance policies, lists of homeowners, professions, lists of known confiscated properties, business directories, and other archival information that can assist potential applicants in their research.

Archivists plan to release several million records, making the database the international community’s largest single-source database of lost Jewish property assets from the Holocaust era.

Project HEART unveiled yesterday an initial set of archival records, in the presence of American Jewish community leaders.

The press release stressed the availability of new technologies in this cause.

“These new technological tools together with the official involvement of the State of Israel in this process give us the hope that this time things will be different," said Natan Sharansky.

"As a former Prisoner of Zion, I remember the difficulty that existed in transferring information in the Soviet Union. In the age of the Internet, Google and Facebook allow us to create magnificent revolutions. Project HEART’s website has received more than 700,000 hits during its first few weeks.
According to the press release:
NEW YORK, May 4, 2011 – A large-scale international effort to help Jewish victims of the Holocaust redress claims of lost property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold under the Nazi regime was jumpstarted this week with the unveiling of a large, publicly available and searchable database of more than 650,000 Holocaust era property records in its first release.

The records were compiled and made available by Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce), an initiative of the Jewish Agency, in cooperation and with the support of the Government of Israel, to help Jewish families identify personal property confiscated by the Nazis and to help victims seek restitution. ...

... Launched in late February, 2011, Project HEART seeks to identify Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs worldwide whose families owned real estate, movable, immovable, or other intangible personal property that was confiscated, looted, or forcibly sold in countries governed or occupied by the Nazi forces or Axis powers during the Holocaust era. The only limitation for application is if a post-war settlement already has been made to a victim or the victim’s heirs for that property. In such cases, people are not eligible to apply to Project HEART regarding that property.

To participate, individuals need to fill out the questionnaire available on HEART’s website, www.heartwebsite.org. Since it was launched, details about Project HEART’s purpose and the application process have been translated into 13 languages, and a 24-hour call center is operational in all languages. To date, the project has received tens of thousands of requests for additional information."
For more information, click Project HEART's website.

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