Project HEART: Database of Stolen Holocaust-Era Assets

Continuing this week’s Holocaust focus, the NY Times has reported in an article Property Lost in Holocaust Is Cataloged Online about a project initiated by the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-governmental organization in Israel headed by Natan Sharansky, to catalog assets belonging to Jews that were killed during the Holocaust.

The project, titled Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce, or Project HEART, has a website that includes a database of assets that they have collected from various resources across Europe. The database contains over 650,000 records currently, and is expected to grow to over a million records in the future.

This project is intended to help heirs of Jews murdered during the Holocaust to claim property, whether real estate, art, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc. that has sat unclaimed until now due in many cases to people not knowing that these assets existed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduces the project in a short video on Youtube:

I’ve discussed in the past some of the ways one can research family members that were killed during the Holocaust, including searching Yad Vashem’s Shoah Names Database and utilizing Yizkor Books. If you know of relatives killed during the Holocaust you should search through Project HEART’s database and see if perhaps they left behind something which I’m sure they would rather a family member claim then be left in the possession of some bank or insurance company in Europe.

Update: The Forward yesterday published a look at  the political implications of the Project HEART initiative.