Holocaust survivors could sue insurers for £12bn

By Jessica Elgot, November 16, 2011

US Holocaust survivors could sue European insurance companies for around £12bn in illegally confiscated life insurance in Nazi Europe.

A hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled for today, on a bill which could force companies like Germany’s Allianz SE and Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali to disclose lists of policies held by Jews before the war, the Washington Post reported.

The campaign is opposed by the German and US governments, and the Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith. Peter Ammon, Germany’s ambassador to the US, said his government has paid billions of dollars to Holocaust survivors and insurers “were promised comprehensive and permanent legal peace in the United States.”

Campaign leader and Auschwitz survivor David Schaecter, 82, who is president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA said it was “shameful” survivors were not allowed to sue the companies for refusing them life insurance. The legislation’s sponsor, US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she was hopeful the bill could pass this year.

Allianz has been targeted by protests in the US because of its past Nazi links, which the company acknowledges.

Last updated: 1:01pm, November 16 2011