US to pay compensation for WW II gold train robbery

Globes 21 December 2004
Itamar Levin

The US government has agreed in principle to pay compensation in the Hungarian gold train affair from the Holocaust era, government officials and the plaintiffs attorneys notified the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami yesterday. The court is hearing the class action suit against the US government.

The parties have not yet worked out the details of the compensation, and therefore did not notify the court about them. The attorneys said 50,000 people were eligible for compensation.

Unofficial reports claim that the US government will pay $25 million to needy Holocaust survivors.

If that is the case, heirs of the property owners will almost certainly not personally receive compensation, unless they are given preference over Holocaust survivors receiving aid. This is likely to arouse criticism against the attorneys who filed the class action suit, since they will be paid regardless, while it is not clear what advantages will accrue to the attorneys' direct clients.
The case covers the alleged looting by US Army soldiers in early 1945 of the so-called "Hungarian Gold Train" of valuables the Nazis seized from 800,000 Hungarian Jews. The valuables included jewelry, art works and other property worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The claimants allege that the US Army and soldiers illegally seized, sold and distributed 1,200 paintings, silver objets d'art, jewels, china, 3,000 carpets, and other household items.
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