New York City – New York State Department of Financial Services released its annual report on holocaust claims on January 17th, 2023. The report, compiled by the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), details the efforts HCPO made to assist ‘Holocaust survivors’ throughout 2022 to receive restitution for their claims. The report, available here, is presented yearly to the New York State legislature, detailing budgetary and administrative changes at the Office.
What is the Holocaust Claims Processing Office?
The HCPO is an office within the Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division of the NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS), the State’s financial and insurance regulatory agency. The Office was created in 1997 under the Republican administration of Governor George Pataki. HCPO was strengthened with the Article 27 of the Holocaust Victims Insurance Act of 1998. So-called survivors lobbied the state to force insurance companies to pay outstanding Holocaust-era claims; however, the office’s scope has broadened over time.
Their mission is to provide:
Institutional assistance to individuals seeking to recover:
- Assets deposited in banks.
- Monies that insurance companies failed to pay policy beneficiaries.
- Artwork that was lost, stolen, or sold under duress between 1933 and 1945.
To accomplish this task, HCPO staff members undertake three types of research: (1) genealogical; (2) archival research for prewar, wartime, and postwar records; and (3) the search for the missing objects…DFS Consumer Protection Office webpage
In the case of missing objects, when located, the HCPO acts as “an advocate” and as “a facilitator” to help “recover” them. The office employs four full-time staff currently.
Much of HCPO’s work is dedicated to assisting alleged Holocaust survivors to file insurance claims with myriad international reparation schemes and successor insurance companies to those who did business during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2019, HCPO Director Anna Rubin said the office has had a wide impact in assisting so-called survivors to file insurance claims. The office had received “4,800 insurance-related inquiries” by 2019, generating 2,465 claims.
When investigating a claim, Rubin told the Committee “…that some documentation is needed. Fortunately, claims processes, unlike courts, adopted and apply relaxed standards of proof for Holocaust-era claims because they acknowledge that the passage of time and ravages of war left many individuals without documentation to substantiate their claims.” (Emphasis in the original.)
For example, under the Processing Guidelines of the International Commission on Holocaust EraAnna Rubin’s testimony (p. 10)
Insurance Claims (ICHEIC), claimants were allowed “to provide non-documentary and unofficial
documentary evidence for assessment,” while companies were “not to demand, unreasonably,
the production of any document or other evidence which has likely been destroyed, lost, or is
unavailable to the claimant.” Similarly, the standard adopted by German Foundation Property
Loss Claims Commission did not require claimants to submit the stringent evidence that a court
of law would demand; instead, claimants were only expected to "credibly demonstrate" what
they were asserting.
Throughout her testimony, she gives several examples of claimants who had no evidence for the existence of life insurance policies from the 1930s and 1940s who collected anyway because HCPO and various international bodies coordinated to find the evidence.
What did HCPO accomplish in 2022?
According to the report (alternatively called the Diversity in Action 2023 Report), HCPO does not merely represent alleged survivors who are residents of New York State or even the United States. It’s a truly international project, having assisted claimants “from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and 39 foreign countries.” To “alleviate the bureaucratic hurdles claimants may encounter,” New York charges “no fee for the HCPO’s services, nor does the HCPO take a percentage of the value of the assets recovered.”
Whilst one might expect HCPO’s budget would have declined over the past decade, as most claims have been settled already, in fact, the office spent a record $989,361 in FY 2021-22, according to the 2023 report. The budget has nearly doubled since 2012. Thus, New York taxpayers fund legal consulting plus historical research for out-of-state and even foreign Jews.
One accomplishment of the office in 2022 was to successfully lobby the legislature to pass a bill that would incentivize banks to ‘voluntarily’ wave fees for repatriation payments by holocaust survivors. The Bill was co-sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Senator Zellnor Myrie, who is of Afro-Costa Rican descent. DFS now publishes a list of banks that waive fees. Among them are:
- Bank of Taiwan New York Branch
- Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
- Credit Suisse AG New York Branch (Rothschilds)
- Goldman Sachs Bank
- Israel Discount Bank of New York
- M&T Bank
- Mega International Commercial Bank Co., Ltd. New York (Taiwan)
- National Bank of Pakistan New York
- Taiwan Cooperative Bank New York Branch
- The North Country Savings Bank
HCPO now contacts banks to cajole them into participating in the program.
Another accomplishment of HCPO in 2022 found in their report involved providing assistance in Luxembourg.
Swift action by the HCPO assisted two elderly survivors to receive one-time payments from The Luxembourg Fund even after an extended deadline for the program had lapsed. The Luxembourg Fund, established in 2001 between the State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Consistoire Israélite de Luxembourg and co-signed by the World Jewish Restitution Organization and Luxembourg Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah, distributed a total of 1,000,000 euros equally to approved applicants who filed timely claims. Among those who received compensation were a 93-year-old New York State resident and her 97-year-old sister due to the strong advocacy and assistance of the HCPO team. The sisters each received a lump sum payment of 11,494.25 euros.Annual report p. 2
Much of their work in 2022 centered on assisting wealthy art collectors and auction houses in completing old collections that supposedly belonged to Jewish owners during the 1930s. HCPO partners with the University of Denver’s Center for Art Collection Ethics, which is primarily devoted to Nazi “looted art” along with Native American art. They research on behalf of claimants and train art students on “art provenance” (origins) to be on the lookout for Nazi art.
I spoke with GreatMystery, who runs Holocaust.claims, a prominent Holocaust revisionist website. She compared the issue of Holocaust reparation programs with Japanese internment. Not only do specialized offices and compensation funding schemes not exist for Japanese victims, but there is relatively little discussion of the matter.
“If America is going to pretend to be all altruistic,” she questioned,
and use tax money to help people that American citizens already fought and died for what about the people we actually wronged? The only state sponsored reparations [Japanese internees] received was 20,000 dollars and an apology. That was in 1988 and I can’t find any active organizations today…[T]here was a case for putting the Japanese Americans in camps. And that’s one of the reasons the Allies needed a Holocaust, because the Germans putting Jews in camps wasn’t enough to obfuscate their participation and war crimes they did in an unjustifiable war.
They’re at it again…
The HCPO is not the only office in New York trying to get ‘holocaust survivors’ rightfully reunited with their property. The Office of the NYS Comptroller is also attempting to do similar work. Working with Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce), the Office of Unclaimed Funds (OUF) seeks to match survivors with unclaimed assets and bank accounts located at bank branches in New York. According to Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Project HEART “is cross-referencing the OUF’s more than 28 million accounts to see if they may belong or can be claimed to Holocaust survivors or their heirs.”
Much of their focus is on Swiss Bank accounts opened prior to WWII.
After the war, the vast majority of those funds were transferred back to the Swiss banks in Europe. However, in some instances, funds belonging to Holocaust survivors and victims remained in those New York branches. Due to account inactivity, some of those branch offices subsequently reported those funds to the New York State Comptroller’s Office as dormant accounts. While many of these accounts have already been claimed by the rightful owners, some accounts still remain outstanding.Office of Unclaimed Funds webpage
Project HEART contacts individuals their database suggests have a valid claim directly, and they can apply to receive funds in those dormant accounts.
New York State offers other programs aimed at benefiting the Jewish community. The Power Authority runs a program called New York-Israel Smart Energy Innovation Challenge which provides grants to Israel-only green technology companies for “innovative technology.” The State is also spending 68 million on ‘fortifying synagogues’ and other Jewish community buildings—funding far higher than available for Christian institutions under threat. Many examples of supposed threats to Jewish institutions are carried out by Jews themselves. Various Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn have their own police and ambulance service, Shomrim and Hatzalah, respectively, which tend exclusively to Jews. They are essentially given free rein by New York City Police. The City itself is run by Jews, as shown by its strategic plan released in December, which focuses unsurprisingly on “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In 2019, Former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed special legislation creating the first new town in New York State in 38 years. Palm Tree encompasses the area of Ultra-Orthodox Kiryas Joel. Palm Tree split from Monroe over conflicts about Hasidic population growth leading to the exurban town becoming heavily overdeveloped very quickly. Palm Tree is 99.9% Jewish, with a whole host of special regulations in town. Visitors are expected to act according to Halakhic customs.
Last year, Governor Hochul budgeted $2.6 million extra for “community services” for Holocaust survivors to give them access to health care and end-of-life programs unavailable to other New Yorkers. Hochul herself is married to Jewish former US Attorney for the Western District of NY, William J. Hochul. New York’s Afro-Latino Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado is married to a Black Jewish woman, Lacey Schwartz. Jewish Senator Charles Schumer of Brooklyn is the Senate Majority leader.
As criticism mounts against the various special interest programs aimed at assisting Jews, New York has become more draconian in policing so-called “anti-Semitism.” Orthodox areas of New York City are well protected by NYPD. While free to terrorize the rest of the state, Blacks, particularly in Borough Park, Brooklyn, are under very stringent conditions to prevent hate crimes against ‘visible’ neighborhood Jews.
Meanwhile, in Albany, a White man is facing serious felony charges along with gun confiscation (red-flagging) for allegedly placing up stickers, including one which included a swastika—a “hate symbol” banned by New York authorities. The defendant Alexander Wolcott asserts his innocence and that the State has engaged in a massive overreach to violate his constitutional rights.
New York also has rolled out a new social media law intended to curb “hate speech” on platforms to prevent the kind of “radicalization” which led to the Buffalo shooting last May. The mentally ill shooter was groomed by a ‘retired FBI agent’ in his discord chat, yet there is no accountability.
A recent study conducted in the Netherlands found over one-quarter of young people thought the Holocaust is a myth or highly exaggerated, while only half of the respondents supported Dutch leaders’ recent attempts at atonement. Meanwhile, in Germany, there are increasing fears that the country is less interested in “the culture of the Holocaust,” particularly with the rise of Alternative fur Deutschland in former East Germany. As Holocaust revisionism becomes more popular, Canada has finally classified denial as hate speech—with the Conservatives leading the charge to outlaw it. Meanwhile, Americans increasingly accept common “anti-Semitic tropes,” according to an ADL report.
Whether recent authoritarian crackdowns can halt the rise in Holocaust revisionism or anti-Semitic beliefs in Western Nations is an open question, especially as state overreach engenders further opposition. In the meantime, the HCPO budget will continue to grow while taxpayers foot the bill.
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