Alien Property

September 23, 1955

Report Outline
American Government and Alien Property
Evolution of U. S, Policy on Enemy Assets
Arguments for Return of Enemy Property
Reasons for Retention of Alien Property

American Government and Alien Property

Unsolved Problem of Seized Enemy Property

Congress may be asked next winter to reverse the decision which it made in 1948 to treat enemy property seized in the United States during World War II as a source of funds to satisfy claims against the enemy countries. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee headed by Sen. Johnston (D-S.C.) has scheduled public hearings to open Sept. 29 on bills to return the property, or the proceeds of property already liquidated, to the former private owners. The administration has favored handing back a part of the property, but strong demands for full restitution—regardless of international agreements to the contrary and regardless of the cost to the American taxpayer—have been made both in and out of Congress.

Measures on which Senate hearings are to be held include an administration bill, introduced late in the 1955 session, to authorize restoring to former owners either the seized property or the sum it brought on liquidation, with restitution in no individual case to exceed $10,000 in property or cash. A second Senate bill, shelved in the 83rd Congress hut reintroduced in 1955 by Sens. Dirksen (R-I11.) and Kilgore (D-W. Va.), proposes full restoration of the enemy property. A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee held hearings in July on four House joint resolutions which like wise call for full restitution.

Scope And Treatment Of Vested Enemy Assets

A vast array of properties of various kinds and hundreds of millions of dollars, representing receipts from other properties that have been sold, are at stake in the current controversy. The properties range from the huge General Aniline and Film Corporation to G.I. life insurance policies left by some American soldiers to beneficiaries in Germany. In addition to business enterprises, there are patents, copyrights, trademarks, real and personal property, securities, notes, and cash. More than 76 per cent of the properties originally were owned by Germans, nearly 17 per cent by Japanese, 4 per cent by Italians, and 3 per cent by Bulgarians, Hungarians, Rumanians, and others.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Property Rights
Sep. 06, 2011  Resolving Land Disputes
Nov. 12, 2010  Blighted Cities
Mar. 04, 2005  Property Rights
Jun. 16, 1995  Property Rights
Sep. 23, 1955  Alien Property
International Law and Agreements
War and Conflict
World War II