Enemy Property

July 7, 1945

Report Outline
Treatment of Enemy Property in Wartime
Enemy Property After Last War
Enemy Property After World War II

Treatment of Enemy Property in Wartime

Enemy property in the United States now in possession of the United States government approximates half a billion dollars. Most of this property was brought under a single, unified control by an executive order, June 8, which directed that frozen assets of German and Japanese nationals be “vested” by the Alien Property Custodian. President Truman's concentration order was regarded as the forerunner of a recommendation to Congress that enemy assets in the United States be used to compensate American citizens, so far as possible, for losses and damage to their property outside the United States at the hands of the Axis.

The final word on ultimate disposition of enemy property seized during the war rests with Congress. Knotty problems that arose after World War I in connection with enemy property may be duplicated after World War II, for wide differences of opinion have already developed as to the proper disposal of the enemy assets now held by the government.

One view is that no legal or moral obligation to compensate enemy nationals whose property has been taken rests upon the United States; if any such obligation exists, it is an obligation of the enemy governments. Another school holds that rights of property owners must be respected, without regard to nationality, and that firm establishment of the inviolability of property rights even in time of war would be of great benefit to the United States—for citizens of the United States have larger holdings abroad than the nationals of any other country.

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