Although previous studies have estimated the value of looted Jewish property, the Israeli government calculation includes lost income and wages, as well as unpaid wages from forced Jewish labor.
The report estimates the value of plundered Jewish property at $125 billion, at current prices. It estimates the loss of income at $104 billion to $155 billion, and unpaid wages of forced laborers at $11 billion to $52 billion.
The new document is an extrapolation of information drawn from more than 100 sources and involves no original research, said Aharon Mor, a Finance Ministry official who headed a committee that spent seven years compiling the report.
Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but the property of 9 million was looted or destroyed, the report said. The contents of apartments and homes, real estate, bank accounts, businesses, insurance policies, personal effects, gold, stocks and bonds, foreign currency, jewelry and works of art were among the valuables plundered.
Some studies estimate that no more than 20 percent of the looted Jewish assets, both private and communal, were restored to their owners after the Holocaust. The restitution of private property, which accounted for at least 95 percent of the total plundered assets, "is the weakest link in the restitution process," the report said. "A great deal still needs to be done in this area."
More than $8 billion of one-time payments to Jews and non-Jews were negotiated in settlements between 1998 and 2001, and a substantial part was paid and distributed, the report says.
But this represents just a small fraction of the Jewish material damage during the Holocaust, and "there is much to be done in order to achieve a measure of justice" for survivors and their heirs, the report said.
"Restitution can successfully be dealt with only by exceptional legal measures," the report said. "In most countries, special, fast, and simple legislation is badly needed."
At the beginning of 2004, 1,092,000 Holocaust survivors were still living worldwide, about half of them in Israel. About 10 percent of survivors die each year, the report said.
"Any systematic delay in establishing settlement and disbursement processes or resolving disputes is therefore not just another bureaucratic hurdle, but the difference between a dignified closing to a tragic period in their lives and unrequited sense of the permanent denial of justice; between assistance for the needs of old age and unabated suffering," the report said.
The restitution process has been under way since 1948.
Source: Herald Tribune