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Holocaust panel publishes policyholders' names

An international panel has published the first 10,000 names of Holocaust era insurance policy holders who may have claims against five European insurers, including the Swiss companies, Winterthur and Zürich.

An international panel has published the first 10,000 names of Holocaust era insurance policy holders who may have claims against five European insurers, including the Swiss companies, Winterthur and Zürich.

The list was published by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). It is the first step in a worldwide campaign to find the rightful owners of unpaid insurance policies dating from 1920-40.

However, only 24 of the names published relate to policies registered with the two Swiss firms: 20 with Zürich and four with Winterthur. Klaus Hütte, a legal advisor for Winterthur, said its figures were so low because the company had only 8,000 contracts in 1938 and these had all been in Germany.

Most claims have been made against the Italian insurer, Generali, which was active throughout the whole of eastern Europe in the pre-war period.

Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, said that publishing the names on the Internet would make it possible for Holocaust survivors to find out if their families had bought insurance before World War Two.

Many insurance policies were lost, destroyed or confiscated during the war. The ICHEIC was set up in 1998 to resolve unsettled claims speedily and fairly.

Another 9,000 names that were discovered in Austria's archives will be published by the end of the week.

swissinfo and agencies

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