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President Clinton Signs U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 23) -- President Bill Clinton signed the U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act of 1998 Tuesday afternoon, promising to step up efforts to discover any U.S. assets that may have been stolen from Jews during the Holocaust.

Swiss gold/Nazis

The act will establish the "Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States," designed to investigate U.S. assets acquired after 1933, to determine whether any U.S. assets were originally the property of European Jews. The investigation will deliver a full report and recommendations to the president by Dec. 31, 1999.

"As we finish off the business of the 20th century, we must examine difficult aspects of our history in order to build a better world for our children in the next millennium," Clinton said in a statement.

The investigation will focus on gold, gems, bank accounts, financial instruments, insurance policies and art works.

The act comes after allegations that the United States melted down gold seized from Jews in Europe during World War II and is a way of formalizing the government's commitment to investigating the allegations.

Last December, the Federal Reserve Bank released documents which indicated that the U.S. had knowingly melted down gold seized by the Nazi army. While officials claim that the gold was all seized from banks, some of it may have been taken from wealthy Jewish families. The gold plates, buttons, coins and other ornaments were melted down by the U.S. government and handed over to Central European banks seven years after the end of World War II.

The Nazi army made a practice of seizing valuables such as gold and works of art, as well as cash, from their victims.

American Jewish organizations have also been negotiating with Swiss banks in an attempt to get the assets of Holocaust victims returned to their heirs. Many European Jews deposited money in Swiss banks when the Nazi government began seizing Jewish assets. Since many of those same Jews were murdered during the war the money was left in unclaimed accounts.

CNN's Sarah Ruth contributed to this report
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Wednesday, June 24, 1998

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