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20 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 250 (2002)


This article discusses the legal challenges for implementing settlements for Holocaust reparation claims to Swiss bank accounts. It specifically discusses the activities related to the settlement of these claims undertaken by the Independent Committtee of Eminent Persons (Volcker Commission). The article's first section presents historical information about Holocaust claims against Swiss banks. Specifically, it attempts to answer the question of why it has taken so long for Holocaust reparation claims against Swiss banks to be processed. The author blames this delay primarily on the obfuscation by the Swiss banks and the inattention of the Swiss government[,] which is indicated by the fact that a complete accounting of the banks' Holocaust-era activities was not publicized until the mid 1990's under the direction of the Volcker Commission.

Next, the article provides information about the Claims Resolution Tribunal's claims resolution procedures. This tribunal, established by the Volcker Commission, was charged with arbitrating Holocaust reparation claims brought by private citizens against Swiss banks. It explains how claims resolutions procedures were modified throughout the history of the tribunal to expedite the process and ensure that the tribunal focused only on those claims that were truly related to losses caused by the Holocaust. This is followed by an analysis of the most challenging legal issues related to resolving Holocaust claims against Swiss banks, including burden of proof and plausibility problems, choice of law conflicts, and difficulties in determining whether claimants were truly descended from Holocaust victims. The article concludes with a discussion of what reparation and restitution claims accomplish in terms of moral accounting to the families of the victims, and the damage done to all the parties involved by the banks' failure to address their moral responsibilities related to Holocaust claims in a timely matter.


Reprinted with permission of the Berkeley Journal of International Law.



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