US to pay up for army plunder

Hungarian Holocaust survivors and the US government have reached a $25.5 million settlement proposal in a lawsuit over a train-load of riches plundered by the US army in 1945.

    The US army waylaid the train in May 1945

    The train-load of gold, artwork and other property was seized by the US army near the end of the second world war, lawyers for the survivors said on Friday.

       

    Law firm Hagens Berman said in a statement in Miami that the proposed settlement, filed with US District Court Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami and subject to her approval, created a $25.5 million settlement fund.

       

    Both sides announced in December they had agreed to settle the lawsuit against the US government over 24 boxcars filled with up to $200 million in household goods that the owners say was first stolen by the Nazis and then confiscated by US troops.

       

    First lawsuit

     

    The US Justice Department also announced the settlement in the suit, which was believed to be the first lawsuit against the United States over property stolen by the Nazis. A brief statement by the department did not give details of the agreement.

     

    Clinton appointed a commission
    into the incident in 1999

    A commission appointed by then-President Bill Clinton concluded in 1999 that high-ranking US army officers and troops plundered the train after it was intercepted on its way from Hungary to Germany in May 1945.

     

    The train carried gold, jewels, 1200 paintings, silver, china, porcelain, 3000 Oriental carpets and other heirlooms seized from Jewish families by the Nazis 

    valued at between $50 million and $200 million. They could be worth 10 times as much now.

       

    The suit said the army falsely classified it as unidentifiable and enemy property, thus avoiding having to return the goods to their rightful owners.

       

    The class-action suit was brought by Hungarian Jews in Miami and originally sought $10,000 in compensation per plaintiff.

     

    Many of the owners of the goods died in Nazi concentration camps during the war, but lawyers estimate that between 30,000 and 50,000 people could still benefit from a deal.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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