Israel

Overview

Israel is strongly committed to upholding the tenets of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust-Era Assets.  Israeli law requires the government to seek out Holocaust survivors and their heirs and to help return Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners.  Through the Office of the Custodian General, which operates under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, Israel is working to return Holocaust-era property and assets in its possession to the rightful owners or heirs and is active internationally in urging other countries to do the same.

The modern State of Israel was founded in 1948.  Most of the Holocaust-era assets under Israeli government control are immovable property (i.e., property that belonged to non-resident Jews who owned property in Israel but perished in Europe during the Holocaust), rather than looted or Nazi-confiscated property.

Israel is home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors in the world, nearly 180,000.  Most remaining survivors were children at the time of the Holocaust.  Survivors resident in Israel include both Jews who were victims of the Nazis in Europe, and Jews from the Middle East and North Africa who were victims of pogroms or other violence, were placed in labor or concentration camps in those countries, or were transported to death camps in Europe.  Caring for Holocaust survivors is costly and challenging, particularly as they advance in age.  This, along with the moral imperative to seek justice for Holocaust survivors while they are still alive, drives Israeli government efforts to return Holocaust-era property to the rightful heirs and to encourage other governments to do the same.

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Immovable property accounts for the lion’s share of unclaimed Holocaust-era property in Israel.  This is largely comprised of real estate that was owned by non-resident Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  In 2007, the Knesset passed a law establishing the non-governmental Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets (“the Company”), whose mandate was to locate Holocaust victims’ assets in Israel, transfer the assets to the Company’s trust, identify the rightful property owners, and return those assets or their fair value to the rightful owners or heirs.  Further, the Company was charged with providing aid, medical assistance, and other care and welfare to Holocaust survivors, as well as to entities and agencies that assist them.

Between 2007 and 2017, the Company located assets with a total value of more than $500 million, including 679 real estate properties worth $230 million.  Of that $500 million in assets, the Company located heirs for nearly $200 million worth of assets.  In 2013, Company and Israeli government officials determined that the Company had “reached the point of balance between its ability to trace additional substantial assets and their diminishing value,” and the law establishing the Company was amended to close it down in 2017.

In 2017, responsibility for the remaining properties was transferred to Israel’s Office of the Custodian General, which falls under the Ministry of Justice.  The Custodian General received about 500 properties from the Company and is working to locate the heirs.  Since January 2018, the Custodian General located heirs for approximately 60 of the properties.  In 14 cases, the Custodian General determined that a property was heirless.  Those properties were sold, and the profits will be used to benefit Holocaust survivors.

Under Israeli law, the Custodian General has until 2023 to locate heirs for the remaining 400‑plus properties.  After 2023, the properties will be sold and the profits used to benefit Holocaust survivors.  If a claimant comes forward after 2023, he or she will still be eligible to receive a sum equivalent to the sale price of the property plus interest.  Israeli law guarantees that a rightful heir can make a claim in perpetuity.

The Custodian General has a team of 12 researchers working full-time to identify the rightful heirs of the remaining Holocaust-era real estate in its control.  These include historians and genealogists, some of whom speak German, Polish, or other European languages, who can evaluate archival records from Israel as well as countries where the Holocaust took place.  Claims are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and evidentiary requirements will vary depending on how much historical information is available to researchers.  In many cases, genealogical information prepared by the Custodian General, along with original property ownership documents, is sufficient to prove a claim, even if a death certificate or other original documents from Europe are not available.  In some cases, the Custodian General has discovered the existence of an heir who had no idea he or she was the rightful owner of a Holocaust-era asset.

The Custodian General publishes ads in newspapers and magazines to reach Jewish community members in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere.  When the Company was in operation, it had also posted to its website a list of nearly 7,000 original property owners who had a claim to some type of Holocaust-era property, along with a contact form via which that person’s heirs could submit a claim for the property.

Dormant Bank Accounts and Share Certificates

In recent years, as a result of a lawsuit brought by Holocaust survivors, several Israeli banks reached settlements with the Israeli government and transferred funds from dormant Holocaust-era bank accounts to the Ministry of Finance, according to contacts and press reports.  These include a $40 million transfer by Israel’s Bank Leumi in 2011, and approximately $5.6 million from other banks between 2009 and 2013.  The funds were earmarked for the provision of services to Holocaust survivors.  Many European Jews had deposited money in banks that existed prior to Israel’s founding, and many of these account holders died in the Holocaust.

In addition to dormant bank accounts, some people – including those with no direct connection to the Holocaust – still hold Mandate-era share certificates in the Jewish Colonial Trust (JCT), a precursor to the Anglo-Palestine Bank and later Bank Leumi.  The Custodian General honors those share certificates, which were originally sold in the early 1900s for about one British pound sterling, providing compensation for both the original share price as well as accrued dividends.  Most individual JCT shares are currently valued at approximately $555 dollars, according to the Company’s website.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art, Judaica, and Jewish Cultural Property

While the vast majority of Nazi-looted art is in Europe, according to press reports, art dealers trafficked widely in Nazi-looted art after World War II.  Jewish or Israeli collectors may have unwittingly purchased some of those looted pieces, and some may now be in Israeli museums.  Pre-1948 art curators acting on behalf of the Jewish Agency, in an effort to preserve Jewish art, also brought pieces to Israel after the Holocaust.  The U.S. military also transferred thousands of additional Nazi-looted cultural items, which had clearly belonged to Jews, to the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) and the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO), which later shipped them to Israel.  While the Israeli government has information about the cultural property that the JCR and JRSO transferred, information about Nazi-looted art still requires significant provenance research.  The National Library of Israel has not yet marked every item it received from the JCR.

At least two dozen such pieces of art have been identified and marked for restitution in recent years, according to press reports, and experts believe there may be hundreds more pieces that have yet to be identified.  Many Israeli museums lack the training and funding to research the provenance of their collections, according to contacts and press reports.  Even if a piece can be identified as having been looted or stolen by the Nazis, it can sometimes be difficult to identify the rightful owner or his/her heirs.  Moreover, some museums may be hesitant to sell heirless art, even if the proceeds benefit Holocaust survivors, because of the belief that Nazi-looted art should remain in the hands of the Jewish people in Israel.  While the issue of looted art is not covered by Israeli law, the official position of the Israeli government is that property looted during the Holocaust should be returned to its previous owners or their heirs.

Some commentators have publicly criticized Israel for not doing more to identify and return Nazi-looted art.  These critics say Israel’s failure to do more to return looted art undermines efforts to encourage European governments to do the same.

Despite the challenges of identifying Nazi-looted art or cultural items and returning it to the rightful heirs, there have been recent non-governmental efforts in Israel to highlight the issue.  In October 2018, the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel hosted a conference on the future of looted art.  One outcome of that conference was the Jerusalem Declaration on the Future of Looted Art, which calls for a just and fair solution that recognizes the previous Jewish ownership of heirless cultural assets.  The declaration calls for museums and galleries to display such art with explanations of Nazi looting, and suggests that unclaimed looted art should be temporarily loaned to and exhibited in museums in Israel and around the world.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Israel is home to a number of Holocaust museums.  These include Yad Vashem, the Chamber of the Holocaust, the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, and the Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies, which aims to bring young people from Israel and around the world into dialogue with the memory of the Holocaust.  There are also hundreds of small memorials throughout Israel honoring people or families who died in the Holocaust.  The Jewish National Fund (JNF), for example, planted six million trees in a “Martyr’s Forest” in 1951, according to the JNF website.

Each year, the International School for Holocaust Studies (ISHS) at Yad Vashem hosts more than 350,000 schoolchildren, university students, and educators.  The ISHS trains educators and develops tools to teach about the Holocaust, using a multi-disciplinary approach that is age‑appropriate.  The Israeli Ministry of Education has also created a comprehensive Holocaust education curriculum for students from kindergarten through high school.

Each year, Israel marks Yom HaShoah as a day of commemoration for the Jews who died in the Holocaust.  Yom HaShoah commemorations began in 1951, and the day became a national memorial day under Israeli law in 1959.  Every year on Yom HaShoah, an air raid siren sounds at 10:00 a.m., and the country’s Jewish populace observes two minutes of solemn reflection.  Israel also commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day annually on January 27.  Israel became a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 1998.

In the days leading up to Yom HaShoah, many Israelis refocus their efforts to remember the Holocaust and educate others about its horrors.  One highly successful program is “Zichron B’Salon” (Memory in the Living Room) in which Israelis host small groups of people in their homes to meet with Holocaust survivors in an intimate setting.

Luxembourg

Overview

Nazi Germany occupied Luxembourg in May 1940, with the Luxembourg government fleeing into exile in London for the duration of World War II (WWII).  Before the war, more than 3,500 Jews lived in the country.  In addition, more than 1,000 German-Jewish refugees had found shelter in Luxembourg.  From August 8, 1940, until the Germans forbade emigration on October 15, 1941, more than 2,500 Jews left Luxembourg, mostly for the unoccupied zone of France.  Between October 1941 and April 1943, Nazi Germany deported 674 Jews in eight transports to camps in Lodz, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Theresienstadt.  Only 36 Jews from Luxembourg reportedly survived the Nazi camps.  Estimates of the total number of Luxembourg Jews murdered during the Holocaust range from 1,000 to 2,500.  These figures include those killed in Nazi camps, in Luxembourg, or after deportation from France.  According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, those deported from France were later sent to killing centers in occupied Poland.

During WWII, Luxembourg’s government-in-exile passed decrees guaranteeing the restitution of private and communal property.  After the war, additional restitution laws came into effect; most applied to Luxembourg citizens only.

Since 2014, the government has demonstrated particularly serious and sustained efforts to meet the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration, especially in the fields of Holocaust remembrance and commemoration.  In 2015, the prime minister presented his government’s apologies to the Jewish community for the negative role certain Luxembourg officials played during the war.  In 2018, the government inaugurated an official monument that is now one of several focal points for Luxembourg’s annual WWII National Remembrance Day commemorations.  In terms of restitution, in February 2019, the government agreed to create a “Working Group on Outstanding Holocaust Asset Issues” with the Luxembourg Jewish community and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).

The Luxembourg government continues to enforce full archival access while respecting national and European Union legislation, and it supports research and education programs about the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes.  Luxembourg served as the rotating annual chair for 2019 of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

In 1941, the Luxembourg government-in-exile issued a decree that annulled all expropriation measures the Nazi occupiers had issued.  According to the decree, acts of confiscated property by the enemy starting on May 10, 1940, were declared null and void.  The decree set a limitation period of three years following the conclusion of peace for the original owners to claim their property.  Any persons who supported property confiscations or who benefited from them were subject to imprisonment and a fine.  In July 1944, just prior to Luxembourg’s liberation, the government issued an amendment to the 1941 law to require buyers of assets confiscated during WWII to declare purchases to the police.

On August 17, 1944, just before the liberation of Luxembourg City on September 10, 1944, the government-in-exile issued another decree establishing the Office of Receivers (Office des Séquestres).  This decree placed enemy property in Luxembourg (including property belonging to collaborators, presumed and verified) under the control of the Office.  The government charged the Office with inventorying, securing, and managing enemy property, until such time as the government decided on its final use.  Citizens who saw their property under wrongful receivership could appeal the decision.  This concerned Luxembourg, Allied, and neutral citizens who saw their confiscated assets equated to enemy property.

A law passed on February 25, 1950, regulates questions about compensation and destroyed property in Luxembourg.  It established three categories of people entitled to benefit from war compensation:  (1) Luxembourg citizens, (2) Luxembourg citizens living abroad, and (3) stateless people and foreigners who had been living in Luxembourg since 1930 and had “rendered verifiable services” to the country.

Between 1952 and 1961, Luxembourg signed and updated reciprocity agreements on war damages and compensation with Belgium (signed in 1952, updated in 1961), the UK (1954), France (1955), the United States (1955), Norway (1955), Switzerland (1956), and the Netherlands (1956).  These agreements allow Luxembourg citizens and companies that suffered war damages in one of the above countries to file for compensation in the same country and vice‑versa.  These laws do not apply to non-Luxembourg citizens and stateless persons, thereby excluding non-Luxembourg Jews.

In 1959, Luxembourg signed a treaty with the Federal Republic of Germany.  In the treaty, Germany agreed to compensate Luxembourg citizens and their dependents who had been forced into German war efforts (military and para-military service), as well as those forced to live in Germany or in a territory occupied by the Nazi forces and who suffered damage to their health as a direct result of war.  The treaty, however, did not address non-Luxembourg citizen Jews who were forced to flee or were killed in Luxembourg.

The government has laws and bilateral treaties in place to address the issue of wrongly seized or transferred property and the return of property to the rightful owner.  However, according to members of the Jewish community, there are still outstanding claims for different types of property in Luxembourg.  The Jewish community emphasizes that while the government has taken many positive steps in recent years, time is running short for survivors.  In addition, existing restitution and compensation laws only cover Luxembourg Jews or Jews from countries covered by reciprocity agreements.  Given that more than 70 percent of Luxembourg’s pre-WWII Jewish population was non-citizens of Luxembourg, with only a small fraction coming from countries covered by reciprocity agreements, Jewish community groups state that more than two‑thirds of Luxembourg’s Jewish population was not compensated, especially with regard to wrongfully seized or transferred assets.

The government acknowledges there are unaddressed restitution issues.  In February 2019, the prime minister agreed to the creation of a Working Group on Outstanding Holocaust Asset Issues encompassing representatives of the Luxembourg government, the WJRO, and the Luxembourg Jewish community.  As of November 2019, the activities of the Working Group were still in progress.

In 2009, the Special Commission for the Study of the Spoliation of the Property of Luxembourg’s Jews During the War Years (1940-1945), under the leadership of historian Paul Dostert, released its final report.  According to the Dostert Commission’s report, the Luxembourg government returned 97.5 percent (994 out of 1,019 transfers) of immovable property.  Out of the remaining 2.5 percent (25 transfers), 16 transfers concern cases in which a Jewish owner had sold his or her property to his or her non-Jewish spouse.  Two transfers concern cases in which Jewish owners had to sell their shares to their non-Jewish co-owner, and seven transfers concern cases where no pressure from German authorities was detected.  According to the report, these transactions were not contested after the liberation.

Regarding companies, the report states that the national Office of Receivers returned illegally appropriated companies to their legal owners after the war.  In cases where companies had been sold or destroyed, the State War Damage Office compensated owners as long as the cases fell within the framework of the 1950 law on war damages.  Most Jews, except for those returning from exile, were able to recover their assets after the war without difficulty.

Occupying forces during WWII desecrated, looted, and destroyed the synagogues in Luxembourg City and Esch-sur-Alzette.  Nazi forces also desecrated and looted the synagogues of Ettelbrück and Mondorf.  The synagogues of Ettelbrück and Mondorf are no longer in use and serve as cultural centers.  Following WWII, the State Office of War Damage financed the reconstruction of the Luxembourg City and Esch-sur-Alzette synagogues, which are still in use.

There are six Jewish cemeteries in Luxembourg.  Occupying forces desecrated but did not destroy them.  All but one cemetery is in use today.

Luxembourg has not passed legislation specifically to address Holocaust-era heirless property.  The Dostert Commission report indicated that while most real estate was returned between 1945 and 1946, there were a few isolated cases where property was rendered heirless.  In those instances, once the statute of limitations for the return of property had expired, it became a vacant estate and the property became part of the treasury.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art

According to the Dostert Commission report, Nazi German authorities transferred confiscated assets, accounts, and investment shares to Germany several months before the liberation of Luxembourg.  In July 1947, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance required that banks re-establish seized accounts with the full amount at the time the asset was transferred to Germany.  If the bank account was owned by a Luxembourg citizen, the State Office of War Damage provided the requisite funds.  The report indicated that 200 re-established accounts were never claimed.

The WJRO and Jewish community have argued that additional research and access to bank archives is needed to shed light on the issue of dormant accounts.  On August 6, 2018, the Minister of Finance submitted a draft law to Parliament on dormant accounts, but to date no legislative action has been taken.  The draft law could allow the government to transfer assets from dormant accounts after a delay of five years for any potential heirs to come forth, under the condition that the original account owner had been the victim of severe international human rights violations.  The law could also be used to transfer assets that had belonged to Holocaust victims who have no heirs to the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust.  The foundation was started in 2018 by the Luxembourg government in conjunction with the country’s Jewish community to promote and preserve the memory of the Holocaust in Luxembourg.

The Dostert Commission report also found that occupying forces sold or gave away movable property to collaborating civil servants and German military forces.  While some movable property was returned to its legal owners after the war, much was never recovered, having been either destroyed or lost during its transfer to Germany.

There is no official catalogue of looted art in Luxembourg, but the National Museum of Art and History details the provenance of art acquired during WWII in an accessible online catalogue.  The museum conducts case-by-case in-depth provenance research when questions arise.

Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

There is no national catalogue of Nazi-looted Judaica in Luxembourg.  However, the Dostert Commission report stated one object, labeled as previously belonging to a synagogue, was returned to the National Museum in 1941.  The National Museum informed the Jewish community, but the object has remained unclaimed.

Access to Archival Documents

In 2018, Luxembourg adopted an archival preservation law providing free and public access to the National Archives or official institutions for both claimants and scholars.  While some archives pertaining to legal and banking issues are still closed, the National Archives can grant limited access to closed archives in cases where research is in the public interest.  The National Archives informs the public of ongoing research and communicates the publication of new inventories according to the archival law.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports having had very good cooperation with the Luxembourg National Archives.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Since 2007, Luxembourg has commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  Additionally, the government commemorates National World War II Remembrance Day on the Sunday closest to October 10.

In June 2015, the prime minister presented his apologies to the Jewish community for the suffering and injustices inflicted upon it and acknowledged the responsibility of some representatives of public authority.  That same day, the Parliament adopted a resolution apologizing to the Jewish community, noting the importance of continuing historical research, and committing to defend human rights and address anti-Semitism.

On June 17, 2018, the Luxembourg government unveiled the monument “Kadish” in Luxembourg City honoring the country’s Holocaust victims.  The government integrates this monument into annual WWII National Remembrance Day commemorations.

In 2016, the government created the “Committee for the Remembrance of World War II” (Comité pour la mémoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale) to represent the interests and memory of freedom fighters (Résistance), forced conscripts (Enrôlés de force), Holocaust victims, and WWII victims.  Additionally, together with the local Jewish community, the government also created the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust to promote and preserve the memory of the Holocaust in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg has been a member of the IHRA since 2003.  In March 2019, Luxembourg assumed the chairmanship of the IHRA for one year.

Holocaust education is part of the official curriculum for high school students.  The Ministry of Education supports Holocaust-related education activities such as field trips to museums, historic sites, and concentration camps.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Holocaust survivors, both nationals and foreigners, benefit from Luxembourg’s health care system, which covers special medical and health needs of Holocaust survivors, such as hunger relief, medicine, and homecare.

Sweden

Overview

In the 1930s, the Jewish community in Sweden consisted of approximately 7,000 people.  Sweden declared an official policy of non-belligerency during World War II (WWII) and served as a refuge for many Jews, some 3,000 of whom migrated to Sweden from elsewhere in Europe in the early part of the war.  Sweden helped rescue Jews mainly from Nazi-German occupied Norway (900 people) and Denmark (approximately 7,200 Jews and 700 of their non-Jewish relatives – almost the entire Danish Jewish community).  Swedes also worked within the warring states to save Jews from internment.  One Swedish diplomat in Budapest, Raoul Wallenberg, saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews by providing them with protective passports.  The Swedish Red Cross undertook an operation known as the “White Buses” and negotiated the release of more than 15,000 concentration camp inmates in Germany and occupied Czechoslovakia.  Although the operation was initially targeted at saving citizens of Scandinavian countries, citizens of other countries were also rescued.

The Government of Sweden is dedicated to the goals and objectives of the Terezin Declaration.  The government, museums, and banks have taken steps to return Holocaust victims’ assets; the government provides access to archives; and it supports Holocaust remembrance in the education system.  There are no reports of any unresolved property restitution claims.  In June 2019, the government initiated an assessment of Swedish compliance with the objectives of the Terezin Declaration in response to concerns among Swedish state museums over their ability to repatriate art acquired under questionable circumstances (more expansive than only Nazi-confiscated artifacts).  The government will report its findings in October 2020.  Sweden plans to host a head of government-level event in October 2020 focused on Holocaust remembrance and combatting anti-Semitism.  The event will mark 20 years since the 2000 Stockholm Declaration, the founding document of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

No private or communal immovable property of targeted groups was confiscated in Sweden in conjunction with WWII and the Holocaust.  As a result, Sweden does not have specific restitution legislation that applies to private or communal/religious immovable property.

According to the government, no Holocaust-era litigation or restitution claims regarding immovable property have, at any time, been initiated or submitted in Sweden or to Swedish authorities outside the country.  In June 2019, the Swedish government instructed the National Heritage Board to assess whether there is a need to take special action to clarify and facilitate Sweden’s compliance with the objectives the country undertook in endorsing the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art and the 2009 Terezin Declaration.  The assessment is to be carried out in consultation with the state museums, the Financial Management Agency, the Royal Library, the National Archives, the Jewish Central Council, the Association of the Holocaust Survivors, and other relevant actors.  The National Heritage Board must present its findings to the Ministry of Culture no later than October 16, 2020.  If the National Heritage Board determines there is a need for action, proposals are to be submitted to the government on appropriate measures describing the organizational, legal, and financial consequences to the State and museums.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art

Sweden has no legislation that specifically addresses heirless movable property belonging to victims of the Holocaust.  As a result, such property is treated as any other heirless property and transferred to the State Inheritance Fund, which liquidates the estate.  The State Inheritance Fund grants funding each year to civil society organizations, with a particular focus on people with disabilities.  The law regulating the fund does not earmark grants for assistance to needy Holocaust survivors, but the fund has provided grants to at least one Holocaust education project.

Starting in 1997, a government commission investigated the disposition of Jewish assets in Sweden and Jewish property brought into Sweden before or during WWII.  The commission investigated, among other things, whether Sweden’s central bank or commercial banks received looted gold and whether stolen Jewish property entered Sweden as part of trade exchanges with Nazi Germany.  The commission, which published its report in 1999, did not find proof that such actions had taken place but could not rule out the possibility that they had occurred in small quantities or in limited circumstances.

The commission established reliable evidence that the government, in a small number of cases, disposed of Jewish assets when it liquidated Nazi German assets as obligated by the 1946 Washington Agreement.  The government provided restitution to claimants affected by these actions in the decades immediately following the war.  In response to requests by Jewish groups, a number of Swedish banks in the 1960s voluntarily created a fund for victims of Nazism, which was distributed by the Red Cross.  The fund’s endowment was based on the estimated total value of unclaimed assets in Swedish banks that could have belonged to victims of the Holocaust.

The commission also investigated what happened after WWII to unclaimed Jewish assets deposited in Swedish banks.  In 1998, the commission published a list of banking assets unclaimed since the end of WWII and unknown to heirs of Holocaust victims.  Swedish banks subsequently made payments to the assets’ rightful heirs, where possible.  In 1998, bank assets of 7 million kronor (approximately $875,000 in 1998) were distributed to almost 600 accounts, which belonged to expatriate account holders.  According to the commission, only “a few” accounts belonged to victims of the Holocaust.  Most accounts belonged to descendants of emigrants to North America.  Assets for which no owners or heirs could be located were transferred to the General Heritage Fund.  The commission found no cases in which Swedish banks had failed to honor rightful claims and no accusations of Swedish banks making unreasonable demands for proof.

The 1999 government inquiry found that “dealings in looted art in Sweden during WWII were relatively modest, viewed in an international perspective.”  Although there were reports of looted art and jewelry entering Sweden during that time, including reports from the U.S. embassy in Stockholm, the inquiry could neither prove nor disprove the veracity of such reports.

Since the release of the report, heirs to victims of the Holocaust have made restitution claims for looted art in Sweden in two cases, both of which were resolved to the stated satisfaction of the claimants.  In 2009, the Modern Museum (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm settled a dispute with the heirs of Otto Nathan Deutsch regarding a painting that disappeared following Deutsch’s flight from persecution in Nazi Germany in 1939 and which the museum purchased from a Swiss gallery in 1961.  In 2018, the Modern Museum reached a settlement with the heir of Alfred Flechtheim to return a painting of his that the National Museum of Fine Arts (Nationalmuseum) purchased from a Nazi party member in 1933 or 1934.  Flechtheim’s heir is a U.S. citizen.

Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

The Department is aware of no reports of looted Judaica or Jewish cultural property present in Sweden.

Access to Archival Documents

Claimants generally have access to archival documents that could be relevant to prove ownership.  The Swedish Constitution guarantees the right of access to all unclassified public documents, and the government and the courts abide by this right in practice.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports good cooperation with Swedish governmental archives.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

The government supports and conducts annual ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration.  August 27 is Raoul Wallenberg Day, commemorating the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust in Hungary.  The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts a memorial lecture, and a Raoul Wallenberg Award is given to a person who has worked against racism, discrimination, and injustice during the year.  In central Stockholm, there is a memorial to approximately 8,500 of the European Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis during WWII.  The Jewish Museum in the Old Town of Stockholm tells the story of Swedish‑Jewish history.

The government places significant importance on Holocaust education and the struggle against racism and intolerance.  Education about the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, as well as human rights more broadly, is part of the required public education curriculum.  The government provides funding for teaching training and educational resources.  No Nazi concentration or extermination camps existed in Sweden, but the government funds student and teacher trips to such sites in other countries.

The Forum for Living History is a Swedish government agency commissioned to promote democracy and human rights, and it also focuses on Holocaust remembrance.  Reports and studies published by the Forum deal with various forms of modern intolerance amongst young Swedes.

In 2000, then Prime Minister Göran Persson announced Sweden’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day of January 27 and declared: “Our quest must be to increase our efforts to pass on the legacy of our past to future generations.  We must be able to say to our children, ‘There is always a choice.  Not to choose is also a choice.”  Prime Minister Persson, in cooperation with the U.S. Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State on Holocaust-Era Issues, convened the International Forum on Remembrance of the Holocaust in January 2000.  It was attended by 46 governments, including 23 heads of state or prime ministers and 14 deputy prime ministers or ministers.  The Stockholm Declaration was endorsed at the end of the conference.  The declaration supports Holocaust education, remembrance, and research, and includes commitments on commemoration days, educational initiatives, and the opening of relevant archives.  At the same time, Prime Minister Persson announced the creation of the International Holocaust Education Task Force to promote Holocaust education in school systems around Europe and the world.  That body is the forerunner of today’s International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

In October 2020, it will be 20 years since the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust and the establishment of what would become the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  The government plans to host a high-level international forum in Sweden focused on remembrance of the Holocaust and combatting modern anti-Semitism.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

State welfare authorities provide comprehensive social welfare, including full medical and health coverage, to all citizens, including to victims of Nazi persecution.  The Jewish Community of Stockholm and the Jewish Community of Malmo also provide homecare services to Holocaust survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution.

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