Some missing Jewish assets may be found in Israeli banks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some of the missing assets of Holocaust victims may be in Israeli banks, according to a geography professor at Bar-Ilan University.

The study by Professor Yossi Katz, published last week in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, indicated that German Jews deposited huge sums in the banks before World War II and that their accounts had been frozen by British authorities in Palestine.

Many of those who had deposited money died in the Holocaust, and only those heirs who knew of the deposits and had the required proof were able to request them.

The fate of unclaimed funds remains unclear.

Katz said the accounts frozen by the British would today be worth about $70 million, excluding accrued interest.

The state custodian, Shmuel Tzur, said Thursday of last week that money deposited in pre-state Israel and not claimed after 15 years was handed over to the state.

But he said that heirs who had proper documents proving ownership could submit a request to receive the deposits, even though the 15 years had elapsed.

The news came after a U.S. report last week faulted Switzerland for buying gold the Nazis looted from Jews during the Holocaust. The report also criticized the United States and other Allies for not doing enough to force the Swiss to return the assets to Jews after the war.