A Settlement Agreement was approved
on September 30, 2005 in the Hungarian Gold Train case between
the United States Government and Hungarian victims of the
Holocaust and heirs. The Settlement was approved in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of Florida, Federal District
Judge Patricia A. Seitz presiding, who preliminarily approved
the Settlement Agreement in a written order dated April 8,
Notice of the Settlement was given to Class
Members in a number of ways, including by mail, through newspaper
advertisements, on the internet and through Jewish and Holocaust
survivor organizational networks. The Notice Period began
on May 2, 2005 and ended on August 1, 2005. The deadline for
Class Members to request exclusion from, or submit comments
or objections to, the Settlement expired on August 1, 2005.
Following a Final Fairness Hearing, held on
September 26, 2005, before the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Florida, Federal District Judge Patricia
A. Seitz presiding, the Court determined, among other matters,
that the Settlement Agreement, including the Plan of Distribution
and the Plan of Allocation, was fair, reasonable and adequate.
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 United States Army on or about May 11,
1945 near Werfen, Austria and later moved to Salzburg, Austria.
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.
This lawsuit claimed that the United States
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 denied that it did anything wrong. The Settlement
is not an admission of wrongdoing or an indication that any
law was violated.
The Settlement Agreement provides that the United
States will pay up to USD $25.5 million into a Settlement
Fund. Any Court-approved attorneys’ fees, expenses and
awards to 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, will be used to provide
social service programs for the benefit of eligible Jewish
Hungarian Nazi victims. These monies will be disbursed worldwide
to qualifying social service agencies in accordance with the
terms of the distribution plan filed with the Court. 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, as well as meet
qualifying criteria for “need.” The Settlement
does not provide for direct payments to Class Members as compensation
for property lost on the Hungarian Gold Train.
Please check this website for periodic
updates regarding the Settlement.