German-Jewish Emigrés Receive Legal Assistance in the Office of the United Restitution Organization (URO) in Tel Aviv (February 20, 1966)
During the war, Jewish organizations not only demanded the restitution of property and compensation for individual Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, they also called for collective compensation payments. In November 1947, a ground-breaking law was passed in the American occupation zone concerning the return of private assets to the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany, and in May 1949 the British military government followed suit. The United Restitution Organization (URO) was founded in 1948 as a legal aid organization for Jewish restitution matters with British foreign office sponsorship and as of 1949 administrative offices in London to support individual Jewish compensation claims. In addition to its British headquarters, the organization set up offices that same year in five German cities, as well as in Israel, France, and the United States. In the mid-1950s, the URO was also present in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Sweden South Africa, and Uruguay.
On September 10, 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany signed a restitution agreement with Israel that provided for collective reparation payments of three billion DM to Israel and 450 million DM to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Together with the agreements made with the Jewish Claims Conference, the West German federal government also established the Hague Protocol, in which it committed itself to a program of reparations legislation. The Hague Protocol and the First Restitution Law of 1953 (revised in 1956) increased the number of people who were eligible for compensation and thus also increased the number of people who needed legal aid from the URO. All told, the URO represented around 300,000 clients and 450,000 claims. In the period up to 1968, it handled claims worth about 700 million DM.