web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Saul Kagan, Claims Conference Founder and Chief, Dies at 91

Saul Kagan founded the Claims Conference, which brought in tens of billions of dollars in payments to survivors of the Holocaust. He also helped found Yad VaShem in Jerusalem.
By:
Claims Conference founder Saul Kagan has died at the age of 91.

Claims Conference founder Saul Kagan has died at the age of 91.

Saul Kagan, the founder and a longtime chief of the Claims Conference, died Saturday at age 91.

Kagan helped found the organization in 1951 to be the main vehicle for negotiating with Germany over restitution for Holocaust survivors.

In a statement announcing his death, the Claims Conference credited Kagan with securing tens of billions of dollars in restitution payments during his 47 years at the helm of the organization.

“Saul always made his work about the mission and never about himself,” the Claims Conference said. “He was the very embodiment of humility, decency, integrity and wisdom.”

Kagan was a native of Vilna, Lithuania, from where he fled in 1940 on a journey that took him to Vladivostok and Japan before reaching Hawaii and eventually New York. His father survived the war in the Soviet Union, but his mother, brother and grandparents were killed by the Nazis.

Kagan found himself back in Europe before the war’s end as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. After the war, Kagan, who spoke six languages, coordinated property restitution in Germany for the U.S. Army.

According to the Claims Conference, he was involved in the creation of U.S. Government military order No. 59, which allowed Holocaust survivors and victims’ families to file claims for property confiscated by the Nazis.

In 1952, Kagan played a key role in the landmark Luxembourg Agreements, when representatives of Israel, Germany and the newly created Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany sat down to hammer out a reparations agreement for the crimes of Nazi Germany.

The mood at the negotiating table was solemn, recalled Kagan — by then the executive director of the Claims Conference — in a video shown at a July 2012 event in Washington marking the 60th anniversary of the Claims Conference.

“There were no handshakes, there was no banter or anything else,” Kagan said in halting tones. “We somehow had the feeling that we were not alone in this room. Somehow we felt that the spirits of those who couldn’t be there were there with us.”

The document signed that year established payments from West Germany to the Claims Conference and Israel.

“For the first time in the history of the Jewish people, oppressed and plundered for hundreds of years … the oppressor and plunderer has had to hand back some of the spoil and pay collective compensation for part of the material losses,” Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wrote in a 1952 letter to the Claims Conference’s first president, Nahum Goldmann.

The early years of restitution were quite contentious among survivors and the Jewish community. The Knesset saw violent confrontations over whether and how Israel should accept money from Germany, and Kagan was threatened by survivors and had to hire a bodyguard.

Kagan was instrumental in setting up some of the most significant compensation programs at the Claims Conference.

In 1980, Germany agreed to the establishment of the Hardship Fund, which has issued one-time payments of 2,556 euros (or their equivalent) to 390,000 victims of Nazism. Following the reunification of Germany, Kagan helped negotiate the creation of the Article 2 pension program to pay Nazi victims who had not received compensation from the agreements dating back to the 1950s. He also helped extend the Claims Conference’s purview to include restitution from Austria.

Through the Claims Conference, Kagan helped establish the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem and the program to honor righteous gentiles — non-Jews who helped save Jews during the Holocaust.

Kagan stepped down from the helm of the Claims Conference in 1999 and was succeeded by Gideon Taylor.

Kagan’s name was back in the news this year when it emerged that he was among those CC’d on correspondence in 2001 about allegations of fraud at the Claims Conference. Investigations that year by Claims Conference leaders failed to detect a massive fraud scheme was underway that would rack up more than $57 million in fraudulent payments by the time it was discovered and stopped in 2009. The fraud dated back to 1993.

Even after he handed over the reins of the Claims Conference to Taylor, Kagan still did work on behalf of the organization. He also was a board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, the World Jewish Restitution Organization and Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Saul Kagan, Claims Conference Founder and Chief, Dies at 91”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority students in Gaza rallying for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the enclave in 2011. (archive)
Wow! Turkey’s Erdogan to Meet Jewish, Armenian Leaders in NY!
Latest News Stories

For the first time, Hezbollah has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to bomb its enemies in Syria.

Palestinian Authority students in Gaza rallying for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the enclave in 2011. (archive)

Turkey’s President Erdogan is meeting with Jewish and Armenian leaders in New York — but so what?

Sukkah Building in Meah Shearim

Hareidim in Meah Shearim are wasting no time to prepare for the Sukkot holiday, even if we have to still have to first celebrate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Hamas Palestinian Authority Drunk Cartoon

The infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is starting to get ugly. Good. Maybe that will keep them busy.

Israel may not be a favorite politically, but is moving up in the world of international baseball.

PA Chairman Abbas and Israeli PM Netanyahu reportedly are secretly talking via negotiators.

Israeli Defense Forces have foiled a Hamas terror attack set to take place in Gush Etzion on Rosh Hashana.

Harari is most famous for leading Golda Meir’s Mossad task force to kill all the Munich terrorists.

Israeli military is watching the northern border closely, waiting for the day the “changes” arrive. Rebels already control Syria’s side of the fence.

Canada will strip citizenship from those who travel abroad to join ISIS or other terrorist groups.

An Arab media outlet appears to be having issues with the closure of the Cave of the Patriarchs to Muslims over Rosh Hashana.

The days of the red cape and Superman are long gone. Now one surfs the Net and buys ISIS chotchkes to become Jihad John.

Nearly 70 years after the Nazis fell, evidence is found in Theresienstadt that life flourished even among those marked for death.

There are IDF officers whose job is to oversee all operations and endeavor to ensure the civilian population is protected.

The Cabinet has approved a massive infrastructure upgrade of Sderot and other southern Israeli communities.

Yemen, where the ‘Arab Spring’ begun, continues to be mired in turmoil and terror.

More Articles from JTA

New York City police are investigating the distribution of fliers marked with swastikas in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Unwelcome sign for Jews.

This happened in Britain in 2014, not in Germany in 1939.

Anti-radical Islam begins to trump anti-Semitism.

Search warrants unsealed in Quebec allege that the Haredi Lev Tahor sect trafficked in human cargo and committed other abuses. The documents also reveal that Interpol and Israel helped build the criminal case against the group before its 250 members fled to Guatemala in March with leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans. The list of charges in […]

Free speech on on the Ohio U. campus is restricted to anti-Zionists.

There still is hope for intelligent life on the anti-Israel campuses.

Just what we don’t need is some amateur, even if he is right, making headlines with a claim that Jack the Ripper was a Jew.

Greek police officers are among those who support the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/saul-kagan-claims-conference-founder-and-chief-dies-at-91/2013/11/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: