Project HEART losing funding even as initiatives seen bearing fruit for heirs.
Project HEART, the Israeli government’s ambitious Holocaust-era restitution project designed to compensate survivors and their heirs for property lost during the Holocaust, is in danger of ending or being seriously diminished, The Jewish Week has learned.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has created a new link on his website to help the heirs of Jewish Holocaust victims claim money in the state’s unclaimed funds database.
An initial search of the site against the names of 50,000 Holocaust victims and survivors turned up 4,000 matches. Now, the state is asking those claimants to check the website and confirm that there is truly a match.
It amounts to a few needles in a very large haystack. But for aging Holocaust survivors and the heirs of those who perished at the hands of the Nazis, the painstaking work being carried out by the New York State Comptroller’s Office may yet pay dividends.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is offering to search the state’s unclaimed funds account to see if any of its nearly $12 billion belongs to Holocaust survivors or their heirs.
The money was in accounts that were turned over to the state by banks, brokerages and other financial institutions after years of inactivity. Some life insurance companies also turned over death benefits when they were unable to find the beneficiary.
The years have not dimmed Frances Irwin’s memory of when the Nazis came to the homes of her parents, grandparents and married brother in Konske, Poland, in 1939. They ordered them to turn over their valuables — their gold, their silver candelabras and menorahs, the “gorgeous, valuable pictures” on their walls and their diamond rings and earrings.
“Even my father’s shtreimel [hat] we had to give because it was fur,” Irwin, 80, of Midwood, Brooklyn, recalls.