Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Contents:

Please select the items below for more information.

Basic Information

  1. Why is this Notice available?
  2. What was the Hungarian Gold Train?
  3. What is the lawsuit about?
  4. Why is this a class action?
  5. Why is there a Proposed Settlement?

Who is in The Settlement

  1. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

The Settlement Benefits - What You Get

  1. What does the Settlement provide?
  2. How much will I be paid?
  3. Why don't people get direct payments from the Settlement?
  4. What else do I get?
  5. Am I giving anything up?
  6. Can I claim for the recovery of property on the Hungarian Gold Train if I have proof?

How to Get social service Benefits

  1. How can I receive social service benefits?

Getting More Information

  1. How do I get more information?

Contact Us

 

 

Basic Information

1. Why is this Notice available?

This Notice was made available by the Court and is posted because your legal rights may be affected by the Settlement. Eligible victims of Nazi persecution may be entitled to receive a portion of the social service benefits of the Settlement, but only if it is approved as final by the Court.

The Court has ordered this Notice to be posted because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit that affects Hungarian Jewish Nazi victims and/or heirs as the borders of Hungary existed from 1939 to 1945. You have legal rights and choices to make before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement.

This Notice explains:
• What the lawsuit is about.
• What your legal rights are.
• What the Settlement involves.
• What the benefits are and who is eligible to seek the benefits.

2. What was the Hungarian Gold Train?

The Hungarian Gold Train was a train of approximately 24 freight cars that contained personal property which was taken, seized, confiscated or stolen by the Hungarian government from Hungarian Jews. The personal property in issue was taken into custody by the Unites States Army on or about May 11, 1945 near Werfen, Austria and later moved to Salzburg, Austria.

3. What is the lawsuit about?

In 2001, plaintiffs, for themselves and on behalf of all persons who have claimed or at any time could claim any interest in the personal property contained on the Hungarian Gold Train, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the United States Government. The case is entitled Rosner, et al. v. United States of America, Docket No. 01-1859-CIV-SEITZ. Federal District Judge Patricia A. Seitz is presiding over this class action.

This lawsuit claims that the United States of America violated various laws and regulations, including but not limited to breach of contract, the law of nations, the Constitution, and applicable military regulations, in its handling and disposition of the personal property on board the Hungarian Gold Train. The United States denies that it did anything wrong. The Settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or an indication that any law was violated.

4. Why is this a class action?

In a class action, one or more people called class representatives sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All those people are class members. One court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.

5. Why is there a Proposed Settlement?

The Court has not decided in favor of Plaintiffs. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement. That way, they avoid the cost, risk, and delay of a trial and appeals, and ensure that the people affected will receive some benefit. The Class Representatives and attorneys for the Class concluded that the Settlement is best for all Class Members.

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Who is in the Settlement?

6. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

 To see if you are part of this Settlement, you first have to know if you are a Class Member.

The Court has said you are a Class Member if:

  • You have claimed or at any time could claim any interest in the personal property on the Gold Train, including without limitation, all Persons whose personal property was taken, seized, confiscated, or stolen by the Hungarian government and/or its officers, employees, or agents pursuant to Decree 1600 of 1944, Decree 8306 of 1944, or any similar law, policy, or practice, and all heirs, estates, assigns, and survivors of such Persons.

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The Settlement Benefits – What You Get

7. What does the Settlement provide?

The United States has agreed to pay up to USD $25.5 million into a Settlement Fund. Any Court-approved attorneys' fees, expenses, and awards to the Named Plaintiffs will be deducted from the Settlement Fund. USD $500,000 of the Settlement Fund will be used by a recipient institution (e.g., a museum) for use in identifying, acquiring, microfilming, cataloguing and making available an archival collection of documents and artifacts, for scholarly research and educational purposes, as well as for the use and benefit of Class Members, relating to the history of the Hungarian Gold Train and the looting of the Jewish Community of Hungary during World War II. The balance of the Settlement Fund, which will be approximately USD $21 million, the "Special Fund," will be used to provide social service programs for the benefit of eligible Jewish Hungarian Nazi victims.

The "Special Fund" will be disbursed to qualifying social service agencies in accordance with the terms of the distribution plan filed with the Court. This means that 42.5% will go to assist Hungarian Nazi victims in Israel; 22.7% to Hungary; 20.1% to the U.S.; 6.1% to Canada; 2.5% to Australia; and 6.1% to be allocated for the rest of the world.

8. How much will I be paid?

You will not receive a direct payment out of the Settlement. To be eligible to benefit from a social service program, you must have been born before May 8, 1945 and lived in the 1944 borders of Hungary sometime between 1939 and 1945 and meet qualifying criteria for "need." "Need" will be determined based upon criteria similar in nature to those used in that place for existing programs benefiting Nazi victims (e.g., individuals' health, disability and financial situation). Class Members who did not live within the 1944 borders of Hungary between 1939 and May 8, 1945 are not eligible for any of the social service programs funded by this Settlement. The services provided to individual Class Members will be limited to the extent that funds are available.

The social service benefits available under the Settlement will only become available if the Court grants final approval of the Settlement.

9. Why don't people get direct payments from the Settlement?

The Settlement does not provide for direct payments to Class Members as compensation for property lost on the Gold Train. Instead, the money will fund social service programs benefiting eligible Class Members according to the Plan of Distribution. After years of litigation, the parties concluded that attempting to provide compensation payments directly to Class Members would be impractical because of the difficulties of determining which individuals had property on the Gold Train (or were heirs of such individuals), and because the administrative costs of determining which Class Members would be eligible for such compensation payments could very well equal or exceed the total size of the Settlement Fund.

10. What else do I get?

In addition to the social service benefits, the Settlement provides additional benefits, which include: (a) a public statement of acknowledgement from the United States of America about the events regarding the Gold Train property (the content of the statement by the United States is within its sole discretion); (b) the payment of USD $500,000 to a reputable institution (e.g., a museum) that will identify, acquire, microfilm, catalog, and make available for posterity and educational purposes, the history of the Hungarian Gold Train and the looting of the Jewish community in Hungary during World War II; and (c) an assurance that all documents from the World War II-era that relate to the Gold Train are declassified or will be considered for declassification.

11. Am I giving anything up?

If you are a Class Member, all decisions made by the Court in this lawsuit or about the Settlement Agreement will apply to you. If the Court approves the Settlement (and it is not overturned on appeal), you will have released the United States Government from any further claims about the issues in this lawsuit unless you exclude yourself as explained below, and you will not be able to sue the United States regarding these issues again. This is true even if you do not receive any assistance from a social service agency.

12. Can I claim for the recovery of property on the Hungarian Gold Train if I have proof?

There is, as noted, no individual claims program in this Settlement which would result in either a direct payment to you or in the recovery of personal property that was on the Gold Train. If you have evidence that your personal property (or of someone for whom you are an heir) was on the Gold Train when the U.S. accepted custody, you have the option of excluding yourself from the Settlement and thereby retaining your right to sue the United States Government at your own expense. You should be aware that the United States has asserted a number of legal defenses in this case and that, even if you have evidence that you (or someone from whom you are an heir) had personal property on the Gold Train, you would not necessarily prevail if you brought your own lawsuit.

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How To Get Social Service Benefits

13. How can I receive social service benefits?

The precise criteria have yet to be determined. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), in consultation with Class Counsel, Class Representatives and others, will develop recommendations for which social service agencies in the relevant countries should be funded as well as the specific programs. The proposed plan will be posted on the internet at www.HungarianGoldTrain.org by June 10, 2005. Subsequently, the Judge will review the proposed plan and Class Members' comments. The Judge will have the power to determine the final plan. At the very least, to qualify for benefits, you will be required to contact an agency that the Judge has approved for funding. Local Jewish social services agencies or Jewish welfare assistance organizations (e.g., Jewish Family Services in North America) will be recommended.

After June 10, to find out which organization(s) is nearest you, please:

• Visit the website, www.HungarianGoldTrain.org;
• Call a phone number listed on page 12.

 

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Getting More Information

14. How do I get more information?

This notice summarizes the Settlement. You can get a copy of the complete Settlement Agreement by clicking here, or by contacting Class Counsel.

PLEASE DO NOT WRITE OR CALL THE COURT OR THE CLERK'S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION.

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