Thursday, 30 January 2020 13:13

Governor Cuomo Announces International Conference to Help Victims of Nazi Crimes

NEW YORK — On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that an international conference will be held this May in New York to build on the work the state has done to help recover property stolen in the course of Nazi prosecution.

"The family of New York will never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, and this international conference will build on our efforts to help victims of Nazi crimes recover stolen property," Governor Cuomo said. "Nothing will ever make up for the unimaginable suffering and loss endured by the Jewish people, but my sincere hope is that this event will help Holocaust victims and their families get the justice they deserve." 

The conference, hosted by the Department of Financial Services' (DFS) Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), will be aimed at improving the State's ability to help recover works of art and other property lost due to Nazi persecution and will include presentations and panel-led discussions between claimant representatives, attorneys, members of the art trade, professionals from cultural institutions, provenance researchers, historians and art historians. The conference will coincide with the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, May 7-8, 2020, and be held in New York City. Since its inception, HCPO has facilitated the restitution of over $178 million in bank accounts, insurance policies, and other material losses and the resolution of cases involving more than 160 works of art.

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell said, "With 20 years of expertise in helping to restore lost assets to Holocaust victims and their heirs, DFS' Holocaust Claims Processing Office is uniquely qualified to host this conference and strengthen our efforts to restore what was lost during the Nazi regime. It is our hope and intention that the discussions that take place will facilitate the restitution of long-lost artworks and builds on the state's efforts to date."

Jack Kliger, President & CEO, Museum of Jewish Heritage - Living Memorial to the Holocaust said, "As we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the upcoming anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe over the Nazi regime, we affirm that it is never too late to provide justice and dignity to victims of the Holocaust. We appreciate the support of Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lacewell for the recovery of property stolen by the Nazis. The Governor is also a great champion of Holocaust education as an important tool for combating antisemitism. In all these efforts, he continues the legacy of New York State as a beacon."

Because there are no international guidelines on how to interpret terms such as "Nazi-confiscated art," "forced sale," and "sale under duress" in the context of a transaction that occurred in Nazi-controlled territories, there are inconsistencies across and within groups of practitioners in the field on how to designate and characterize various forms of loss. The conference will explore the theft of property from the Jewish people during the Nazi-era using specific terms in order to create certainty and commonly accepted practices with respect to restitution and compensability. Additional information can be found at www.dfs.ny.gov/termsofart.

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