Shlomo Gonen,(Israel) the nephew of Nathan Ber Goldstein z"l who was murdered in the Holocaust leaving behind a bank account in Israel, is presently righting an historical wrong: he is repossessing the money kept from his family for many years - this with the assistance of the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets.
Shlomo Gonen: "It is important for me to tell my family's personal story so that others will also act towards the return of Holocaust victims' assets that they deserve as the rightful heirs of the survivors. These assets should be given to the beneficiaries, and if there are none - at least to those survivors who are ending their days in abject poverty."
In 1933, Nathan Ber Goldstein, despite the fact it was strictly forbidden,by the Nazi regime decided to open an account at the Anglo-Palestine Bank - later to become the Leumi Bank - giving a fictitious address in Tel Aviv. In the 1940s, Nathan Goldstein was murdered by the Nazis in Poland. Earlier, in 1935, his younger brother Baruch, the second of eight brothers, immigrated to Israel. Twenty years later, Baruch, who was the only survivor of the family, tried to recoup his brother's money. He and his family negotiated exhaustingly with the bank for twelve years, but the bank refused to return them the dead brother's money at its real value - instead offering the nominal value of 790.88 lira!
Recently, Baruch's son, Nathan's nephew, Shlomo Gonen petitioned the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets for assistance in returning the money at its real value. Gonen, now 70, describes the help he received in regaining his uncle's lost assets:
"My uncle Nathan and his brother (my father) Baruch came from a very rich family. They were in agricultural machinery. When my father made Aliyah, he received a special entry permit that was beyond the British White Book's quota, because he had more than one thousand liras. In 1975, my father told me that a lot of money had been deposited in the Leumi Bank. He was very angry with everyone involved. As far as he knew, the British had returned all the assets deposited by Holocaust victims to Israel in 1950. The problem was that at least some of the documents had been destroyed. My father told me that in spite of his attempts, the Leumi Bank officials were fighting him, and he felt that they were debasing the memory of his family, who had died in the Holocaust. 'They offered me the same sum that had been deposited, without 40 years of interest,' he told me. They are absolutely neglecting their responsibility. It's as if they both murdered and inherited. One day you will get what you deserve, but don't let them have a penny. They want us to die so that they can keep the money. I've never seen such low-lifes.'
After the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee initiated by Colette Avital presented its conclusions, the law was enacted for reinstating Holocaust victims' assets that are located in Israel to the rightful beneficiaries. I came personally to the Knesset Finance Committee. At the same time, we had a lawyer who agreed to represent the family privately in a claim for millions against the bank. But we decided to respect my father's wishes and act in accordance with the law. In our case, we had all the required documents, but we still came up against institutional insensitivity for many years.
Recently, the Company paid Shlomo over NIS 300,000 out of the money the bank agreed to transfer without admitting its historical liability regarding the victims' accounts.
The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets has provided the bank with all the documents proving the existence of the account and is striving to have the money transferred to the rightful beneficiaries.
For a list of assets & Application Form- click here.