My Heritage Assists In Restoration of Stolen Property Lost in Holocaust

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

Many descendants and survivors of the holocaust have listed their names with the Claims Conference [Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, a private New York-based organization that works to secure restitution for survivors and their heirs] . However, not all knew about this or did not think it was relevant to them.  A new twist on how people are being found, is from Israel-based social media genealogy company, MyHeritage.  MyHeritage is using the Internet to help match property stolen by the Nazis to heirs of the victims.  Behind the new push to use social media to help people to make restitution claims has been Gilad Japhet, CEO and founder My Heritage, A few months back, Japhet read a report about the Claims Conference's list of over 40,000 buildings, stores and factories that could not be matched with their original owners. Japhet matched some names on the list to the millions of names that users had posted on MyHeritage's family trees online. Japhet put together a team of five employees and had them write a computer program that automatically matches the names on the Claims Conference's list with those on the virtual family trees. So far, they have been able to match about 150 names on the list with names on the family trees.

Descendants can come forward to claim their family's assets until the end of 2014 if they find their original property on a recently released list by the Claims Conference, called the Late Applicants Fund.  Due to the aging of holocaust survivors many have died and with them much of the information that might have been needed for descendants to make a claim.  As the records become digitized they may find more families to make claims.

MyHeritage is doing this as a “mitzvah” and does not expect or desire any compensation for finding the people or any part of the restitution.

To read more about the story go to:

Thank you to Randy Hershaft, AP researcher who contributed to the story for alerting us to this story.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee


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