Navigation

Holocaust insurers, including Switzerland, under pressure to pay up

Lawrence Eagleburger (above), chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, is putting pressure on World War II-era insurance companies in Europe to swiftly release allegedly withheld payments from Holocaust survivors.

This content was published on July 22, 1999 - 09:38

Lawrence Eagleburger (above), chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, is putting pressure on World War II-era insurance companies in Europe to swiftly release allegedly withheld payments from Holocaust survivors.

Ex-U.S. secretary of state Eagleburger was reported to have set a one-week deadline for the international panel to agree on a formula to evaluate the current worth of the pre-war insurance policies.

Figuring out how many policies that Holocaust victims bought to protect their families in the volatile prewar years and how much they are worth has been one of the toughest issues facing the panel.

Insurance analysts have said that outstanding claims could run from $1 billion to $4 billion, though at least one insurer who serves on the panel has said that estimate was inflated.

"Chairman Eagleburger reiterated that there was no choice but to finalise the valuation formulas, and as of this hour, stated he would intervene directly to finalise them in a week's time, if necessary," said a source, who declined to be named, after the first meeting of the panel on Wednesday. The discussions will continue on Thursday.

So far, only five big European insurers -- Germany's Allianz AG, France's AXA, Italy's Generali, and Switzerland's Winterthur and Zurich Allied -- have joined the insurance panel. These five account for 40 percent of the prewar market.

Eagleburger has asked four more insurers -- the Netherlands' AEGON NV, Switzerland's and Germany's Munich Re and Gerling-Konzern -- to sign up.

The panel is under the gun to begin making payments swiftly, so that elderly Holocaust survivors and not their beneficiaries get the benefit.

On Wednesday, Washington’s top negotiator on Holocaust issues increased pressure on European insurers who have not joined the international panel.

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat told the commission that the panel was the vehicle for resolving claims against European insurers brought by Holocaust survivors, the source, who declined to be named, said.


From staff and wire reports.



This article was automatically imported from our old content management system. If you see any display errors, please let us know: community-feedback@swissinfo.ch

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Join the conversation!

With a SWI account, you have the opportunity to contribute on our website.

You can Login or register here.