Assemblymember Kevin Cahill: Assembly Helping Holocaust Victims Recover Stolen Assets

Bills provide victims, families with help and information
April 7, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced Assembly passage of a series of bills meant to help Holocaust victims and their families recover assets stolen from them during World War II.

"The Holocaust was a barbaric event in human history. Entire families were murdered and their belongings seized," Assemblymember Cahill said. "We have an obligation to help victims and their descendants reclaim what is rightfully theirs."

To make sure victims are aware of the agencies set up to assist them, one of the Assembly bills would require any banking institution doing business in New York State to tell customers – in writing – about the New York State Banking Department’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office (A.10195). Another bill requires the state superintendent of banks to report annually to statewide leaders on how the Holocaust Claims Processing Office is functioning (A.10196).

"It doesn’t matter how much we’re doing for victims and their families if they don’t know that help is available," Mr. Cahill added. "Since almost everyone has some sort of bank account, it is common sense to have the banks give these people the information they need."

The Assembly also passed a bill to create the New York State Banking Holocaust Advisory Board for the purpose of making recommendations on how to better serve Holocaust victims and their families. The bill requires the board to meet at least once a year and to report on their progress (A.10194).

Additionally, the Assembly passed a resolution urging the banks of Switzerland to act quickly and fully cooperate with efforts to make restitution for the victims of the Holocaust. Some Swiss banks are hampering efforts to fulfill a $1.25 billion settlement that was reached in a widespread class-action suit in 1998. The suit was brought about by victims of the Holocaust to recover assets stolen during the Nazi regime. A copy of the resolution will be sent to the Embassy of Switzerland in the United States.

"Those of us who weren’t there couldn’t possibly imagine what Holocaust victims went through, but we in government have the power – and the responsibility – to do the right thing for them," Assemblymember Cahill said. "The Assembly has fought long and hard to make sure such victims get the compensation they deserve."