web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



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
Brandeis University junior Khadijah Lynch who tweeted she has "no sympathy" for slain NYPD officers, shown here on "Wake Up With Tayla Andre, "Dec. 24, 2014.
A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis
Latest News Stories
Brandeis University junior Khadijah Lynch who tweeted she has "no sympathy" for slain NYPD officers, shown here on "Wake Up With Tayla Andre, "Dec. 24, 2014.

Free speech for haters but not for those who quote the haters, according to Brandeis students.

Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.

Once again, Hamas has produced a bunch of dung about Israel’s activities on — and under — the Temple Mount. Do Arabs really believe it?

The terrorists who firfebombed a public bus in 1988 mixed glue with the gasoline to make sure the victims would suffer maximum pain

A Jerusalem family was stunned Saturday night by a firebomb igniting a blaze on their balcony.

IDF Paratroopers training at the IDF Tze'elim base.

Israeli military intelligence makes its predictions for 2015, but this year is not like other years.

He thanked Avigdor Liberman for the years of working together, and added that he will help with the elections.

Her condition remains serious but stable.

80% of Israelis have WhatsApp, and 70% believe they can’t live without the app.

Israel is extending the land barrier on the northern border  to reach undersea, west of Rosh HaNIkra to stop Hezbollah terrorist divers from trying to infiltrate into Israel The censor has barred publishing the length of the barrier, designed to stop Hezbollah divers, submarines and swimmers. Israel also has built an undersea barrier off the […]

Egypt gives the Jews a reminder not to go back there.

A ruling against the law will throw the elections into another 30-ring circus.

Another Malaysian airplane has disappeared mid-flight.

Arab terrorists have released a “How to kill a Jew” video, and its going viral.

A large hole was cut in the security fence.

More Articles from JTA

Argentina’s president Christina Fernandez has accepted an official Jewish godson for the first time in the country’s history to help counter legend of death to a seventh son. She described in seven tweets her meeting with her new godson, Yair Tawil, a member of a Chabad-Lubavitch family. He was adopted as a godson under a […]

A fundraising campaign started quietly by two first graders two years ago to help find a cure for a rare genetic disease just passed the $1 million mark.

Hebrew University will give its students the day off on Christmas for the first time ever. There will be no classes on Thursday, Dec. 25, a new vacation day on the university calendar. The students also had off on Sunday for Hanukkah. The university also has declared a vacation day for and placed on its […]

Just imagine the uproar if it was exposed that the Mossad told agents how to get past US security?

Oscar-winner “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” has been selected for permanent preservation in the Library of Congress by the National Film Registry. The film, released in 2000, documents the rescue of some 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi-dominated Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in the months leading up to World War II. […]

“It was crucial to my survival knowing that I was not forgotten.“

Jeb Bush announced his intention to “actively” explore the presidency in a Christmas and Hanukkah greeting message. “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!” the former Florida governor Bush said in a Facebook message posted Tuesday. He described conversations he had with his family over Thanksgiving. “As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the […]

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: