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'Confiscation of Jewish Property in Europe, 1933–1945, New Sources and Perspectives'

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Confiscation of Jewish Property in Europe, 1933–1945, New Sources and Perspectives


Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies USHMM 2003


March 2003


This consists of the proceedings of a symposium of the same name which took place at the USHMM's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies on 22 March 2001.   The proceedings are available online and include important papers on a range of aspects, as set out below. 

In their foreword, Paul Shapiro and Martin Dean underline the significance of the symposium which focused attention on new areas of research into the confiscation process: 

"The aim of this symposium was to develop a more in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and effects of the confiscation of Jewish property throughout Nazi-dominated Europe. It is possible to examine this subject more closely than in the past, in part, because significant new archival collections have been opened to researchers in the past decade. These include government, private, and corporate archives in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in the United States—documents that until recently were classified, or subject to restricted access, or in some cases simply forgotten.

These papers highlight a number of key aspects of the confiscation process. They focus on the seizure of private property such as bank accounts, securities, real estate, household items, and books, as distinct from the so-called Aryanization of businesses. Through a combination of special taxes, blocked accounts, and confiscatory decrees Jews were progressively robbed of their entire private means. Particularly impressive and equally disturbing is the robbers’ effort to ensure that property confiscation was carried out by "legal" means through a vast array of institutions and organizations set up for this purpose. The immensely bureaucratic nature of the confiscation process emerges from the vast archival trail that has survived. Arguments that no one knew about the Jews’ fate become untenable once it is clear how many people were involved in processing their property. "Legal" measures often masked theft, but blatant robbery and extortion through intimidation and physical assault were also commonplace."

The contents list is set out below:


Paul A. Shapiro and Martin C. Dean p.i

Confiscation of Jewish Assets, and the Holocaust
Gerald D. Feldman p.1

The Finanzamt Moabit-West and the Development of the Property Confiscation Infrastructure, 1933–1945
Martin C. Dean p.9

The Supervision and Plunder of Jewish Finances by the Regional Financial Administration: The Example of Westphalia
Alfons Kenkmann  p.21

Property Seizures from Poles and Jews: The Activities of the Haupttreuhandstelle Ost
Jeanne Dingell p.33

Seizure of Jewish Property in Romania

Jean Ancel  p.43

The Plundering of Antwerp’s Jewish Diamond Dealers, 1940–1944
Eric Laureys p.57

Franco-German Rivalry and "Aryanization" as the Creation of a New Policy in France, 1940–1945
Jean-Marc Dreyfus p.75

The Expropriation of Jewish Emigrants from Hessen during the 1930s
Susanne Meinl p.93

Economic Discrimination and Confiscation: The Case of Jewish Real Estate
Britta Bopf  p.105

Jewish Cultural Property and Its Postwar Recovery
Elisabeth M. Yavnai  p.127

Summary and Conclusions
Peter Hayes  p. 143

Appendix: Biographies of Contributors













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