Monday, July 25, 2011

Searchable, user-friendly database is the largest single-source of Holocaust era property records

Anya emails: I am writing to you on behalf of the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce-Project HEART –to inform you of the latest press release that was distributed worldwide today in more than 13 different languages.

Project HEART is a nonprofit initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), funded by and in cooperation with the Government of Israel. Project HEART is asking for the assistance of the various Jewish organizations and media worldwide to inform the members of their communities about this very important initiative for all Jewish people.

The confiscation, looting, and forced sale of Jewish property during the era of the Shoah caused immeasurable damage to Jewish individuals and communities—damage that continues to the present. Project HEART was formed as an initiative to reach out, in one comprehensive mission, to those it can assist.

JERUSALEM, July 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Project HEART announced today that its searchable database of Holocaust era property records now contains 1.5 million records, making the database the largest, publically available single-source database of lost Jewish property assets from the Holocaust era.





The online database was first unveiled on May 1, 2011, at which time, it contained over 500,000 records. Since that time, the Project HEART database has received a record amount of hits from users worldwide. The records were compiled and made available by Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce), an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), in cooperation and with the support of the Government of Israel, to help Jewish families identify personal property confiscated by the Nazis and to help victims seek restitution.

The 1.5 million records contained in Project HEART's online database consist of property addresses, lists of homeowners, professions, lists of known confiscated properties, business directories, insurance policies , and other archival information that can assist potential applicants in their research.

Project HEART's Executive Director, Bobby Brown, stated that the addition of approximately 1 million records since the database was first posted on May 1, 2011, demonstrates Project HEART's commitment to "list every piece of private property that we can find, for which the Jewish people declare they never received compensation."

"The Project HEART database will be instrumental in our struggle towards achieving a small measure of justice for the Holocaust victims and their heirs," said Natan Sharansky, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency. Sharansky added, "The records compiled in the Project HEART database serve as uncontroverted proof that the Holocaust was not only the greatest murder ever committed, but the greatest robbery in history. We are dedicated to the struggle to ensure that Holocaust victims and their heirs receive compensation and are proud that Project HEART is utilizing advanced technological tools to advance this goal."

Leah Nass, Deputy Minister for Senior Citizens, representing the Government of Israel, said, "Project HEART's creation of the most comprehensive database of Holocaust era property records to date demonstrates our commitment to seek a measure of justice for Holocaust victims and their heirs."

Launched in late February 2011, Project HEART seeks to identify Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs worldwide whose families owned real estate, movable, immovable, or other intangible personal property that was confiscated, looted, or forcibly sold in countries governed or occupied by the Nazi forces or Axis powers during the Holocaust era. The only limitation for application is if restitution has been made to a victim or the victim's heirs for that property after the Holocaust era; then they are not eligible for further restitution in connection with that property.

The Project HEART database was specifically created to assist Holocaust victims and their heirs during the eligibility process. Individuals can access the database on the Project HEART website: To participate in Project HEART, individuals only need to fill out the Questionnaire that may be found on the website.

The online database will also serve as a powerful tool during future efforts to achieve restitution on behalf of eligible participants, since the records contained in the database will complement as well as legitimize the information submitted by Holocaust victims and their heirs.

"This is the first worldwide list of property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era to be made available to survivors and their heirs," stated Anya Verkhovskaya, Project Director, who added, "the response to the database has been overwhelming, with approximately 100,000 hits happening each week."

Since it was launched, details about Project HEART's purpose and the application process have been translated into 13 languages, and a 24-hour call center is operational in all languages. To date, the project has received tens of thousands of requests for additional information. Now that the online database contains 1.5 million property records, Project HEART officials anticipate an even greater response from Holocaust victims and their heirs.