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Jewish Journal

Quackenbush’s Crusade

by Tom Tugend

December 9, 1999 | 7:00 pm

In two days of hearings (Dec. 1 & 2) on Holocaust-era insurance policies, California's insurance commissioner threatened to penalize a German and an Italian insurer for non-cooperation, while reaching agreements with three Dutch companies.

The European companies were among eight subpoenaed by Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush to testify on their readiness to present complete lists of policy holders who perished in the Holocaust or survived in concentration camps, as mandated in a newly enacted California law.

Presumably this would seem a positive threat of pressure. Well not for everyone. In fact the California hearings were criticized by Stuart E. Eizenstat, the Clinton administration's point man on Holocaust issues, and former Secretary of State Laurence S. Eagleburger, who heads an international commission to resolve Holocaust-era insurance disputes.

The two officials maintained that the five European insurance companies should have been excused from testifying in California because of their participation in the international commission.

Further, Eizenstat said in an interview that Quackenbush's aggressive actions could undermine efforts to forge an agreement on the issue of slave labor during World War II, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In an analysis of the California hearings, The Jerusalem Post said that the compliance by the three Dutch firms represented a separate "national deal," supported by the Jewish community in Holland.

Such a deal served to bypass and undermine the efforts of international Jewish organizations and various commissions to forge global settlements on Holocaust claims.

The three Dutch companies, Aegon, Ing and Fortis pledged to supply the policy lists between 1920 and 1945 and agreed to contribute $4.2 million to a humanitarian fund for 22,000 Holocaust survivors in California.

Meanwhile Allianz A G of Germany and Assieurazioni of Italy were warned they might lose their California licenses to do business in the state.

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