Holocaust-Era Assets

Civilian Agency Records

Department of the Treasury Records

Records of Office of Foreign Assets Control (RG 265)

Midway in World War II it became apparent that the United States Government had increasing need for comprehensive financial information on American property interests in foreign countries, particularly enemy and enemy-dominated nations, for purposes related to the so-called "freezing controls" administered by the Treasury Department, to military phases of the war, and to preparations for peace negotiations.

The Foreign Funds Control (FFC), which had been established in the Office of the Secretary, Treasury Department in April 1940, immediately after the invasion of Norway and Denmark by Germany, and which in 1941 had taken a census of foreign assets in the United States was given the responsibility for taking the so-called census of American-owned assets in foreign countries in 1943 to provide the needed data.

The taking of the census of American-owned assets in foreign countries was one of the many activities of the FFC in carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of the Treasury in the financial warfare program of the United States Government. In the beginning the FFC was responsible for placing restrictions on foreign exchange transactions, on the export or withdrawal of gold, silver, coin and currency, on transfers of credits, securities or any other evidences of ownership or of indebtedness involving property of the countries or nationals of the countries that had been invaded by the German and Russian armies. After the United States entered the war the FFC was responsible for severing all financial and commercial intercourse between the United States and any countries outside the Western hemisphere that directly or indirectly benefited the Axis, for the prevention of all financial and commercial transactions between the United States and any other American Republic that directly or indirectly benefited the Axis, and for stopping all financial and commercial activity on the part of persons or corporations in the United States whose influence or activity was deemed inimical to the security of the Western Hemisphere.

With the increase in its functions the FFC was formally established as a separate administrative unit of the Department, with the status of a bureau and with a director as its head, on September 11, 1942. It continued in that status until July 15, 1947, when its residual functions, personnel, and records were transferred to the Treasury Department's Office of International Finance. An Executive order of August 20, 1948, transferred responsibility for all pending work related to foreign funds control to the Office of Alien Property, Department of Justice. All records of the FFC, excepting those described below and a few housekeeping records, were turned over to the Office of Alien Property in October 1948. For descriptions of those records see the Records of the Office of Alien Property (RG 131) in the Department of Justice section of this finding aid.

In taking the census of American-owned assets in foreign countries, the FFC utilized the central office and field organization that had been developed in the activities of its Licensing and Enforcement Divisions in "freezing" assets of enemy and enemy-dominated nations, in preventing the use of frozen or "blocked" assets by the Axis, in licensing transactions in such assets, and in investigatory work. The forms on which the reports of assets owned were to be made were obtainable in the central office in Washington and in the field at Federal Reserve Banks, and outside the continental United States from the Government officials in the Territories and possessions or United States consuls. Since the census was to serve the needs of the whole Government and to eliminate the necessity for recurring or overlapping demands on investors and others in the nation, the report forms and instructions were adopted after their review by interagency representatives of the Departments of State and Commerce, the Board of Economic Warfare (late the Foreign Economic Administration) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The proposed forms and instructions also were discussed with representatives of banks, industry, and insurance companies to insure that accurate and useful data could be obtained economically and expeditiously.

The basic report form used in taking the census was designated "TFR-500."  The above- mentioned census taken in 1941 by the FFC of foreign assets in the United States was reported on forms known as "TFR 300,"and a census taken by the FCC in 1948 of assets blocked in the United States as of June 1, 1948, was reported on a "TFR 600" form. (Note 16)  These forms were turned over to the Office of Alien Property,

The census of American-owned assets in foreign countries on the TFR 500 forms was announced on June 3, 1943, through the issuance of Special Regulation No. 1, under Executive orders 8389, as amended, and 9193. Detailed instructions concerning the reporting requirements were stated in Public Circular No. 22 which was issued on July 1, 1943, and amended from time to time.

The basic requirements as to liability for filing the Form TFR-500 reports were very broad but certain exceptions and exemptions were provided. In the words of Public Circular No. 22, reports were required to be filed by "(1) every person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States having at the close of business on May 31, 1943, any interest whatsoever, direct or indirect, in any property in a foreign country on such date and by (2) every person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States with whom any foreign organization was allied on May 31, 1943."

The word "person" was defined to include an individual, partnership, association,corporation, or other organization. The following were considered as subject to the jurisdiction of the United States:

  1. Any citizen of the United States whether in the United States or in a foreign country.
  2. Any corporation or other organization created or organized under the laws of the United States, or any State, Territory, district, or possession there of.
  3. Any individual resident in the United States on May 31, 1943, including any individual continuously within the United States for 3 months next preceding that date, and
  4. Any person not otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to the extent that on May 31, 1943, such person had any branch, office, or representative within the United States.

Certain overall exceptions were made to the foregoing general provisions, to the extent that the person came within the following categories on or after May 31, 1943, and remained therein until the final reporting date:

  1. Citizens of the United Statesin enemy or enemy-occupied territory.
  2. Members of the armed forces of the United States serving outside the continental United States, and
  3. Officers or employees of foreign governments and members of immediate families of such persons, provided they were not citizens of the United States.

Subsequently (as of March 23, 1945) citizens of the United States in enemy or enemy-occupied territory were required to report as soon as consular offices were opened in such territory.

Special forms, all, bearing the TFR-500 number, were provided for different classes of reporters. Series A-I was for the use of individuals, series A-II for corporations and other organizations, series A-III for executors, administrators, or trustees, and series A-IV for custodians and nominees in this country who held property for persons not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Each of these forms called for data with respect to the reporter and for a summary by countries of the reporter's foreign property.

Series B was to be used by all reporters. This form contained a schedule of 37 property types with spaces in which the total required value of property of each type in a given jurisdiction was to be entered. Separate forms had to be filed with relation to each jurisdiction in which the reporter had any property required to be reported. On the reverse side of the form the property was to be described in some detail, except for property in class A, Interests in Allied Foreign Organizations, which was to be described in series C and C supplement forms.

Public Circular No. 22 contained a complete description of property classes and types. These descriptions were sufficiently broad to include all types of property. The following exceptions were specified:

  1. Repudiated currency and obligations;
  2. Claims against a United States branch of a foreign person;
  3. Personal furnishings and equipment; and
  4. Goods in transit.

The circular was so worded to include certain special types of contracts and to exclude all others.

Property damaged, destroyed, or seized at any time between January 1, 1938 and May 31, 1943, as a result of war or a "scorched-earth" policy carried on by any country, or through any confiscatory action or duress by a country that on May 31, 943, was at war with the United States, or was occupied by such country was reportable.

General exemptions from reporting were provided as follows:

  1. Property sold or otherwise disposed of or seized, confiscated, destroyed, or lost before the owner became subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;
  2. Property of any person whose total holdings in all foreign countries had an aggregate value less than $10,000, except for foreign bonds, payable by their terms in United States dollars, and interests in allied foreign organizations, license agreements, franchises and concessions, and certain contracts, all of which were reportable regardless of value; and
  3. Property of any person in any one country if the holdings in that country had an aggregate value of less than $1,000 except again that foreign bonds payable by their terms in United States dollars and interests in allied foreign organizations, license agreements, franchises and concessions, and certain contracts were all required to be reported regardless of value.

Property was deemed to be foreign when at the close of business on May 31, 1943, it came within one of the following categories:

  1. Tangible property locatedin a foreign country;
  2. Intangible property issuedor created by or constituting an obligation of a foreign country or a person within a foreign country; and
  3. Currency and coin, securities,and negotiable instruments for the payment of money issued or created by the United States, or an agency or person therein,if the property or evidence was located abroad or was held through a foreign custodian.

Because of wartime conditions the dates as of which property was to be valued necessarily varied according to the country in which the property was located. In general, property in continental Europe was to be valued as of August 1, 1939, while property in China, Japan, and Southeastern Asia was to be valued as of December 1, 1941. In other words, property in enemy and enemy- occupied countries was governed by valuation dates so fixed that data would be available and would be affected only to a minor extent by the war. Property in other parts of the world was to be valued as of May1, 1943. In all cases, only property actually or presumptively held at close of business on May1, 1943, was reportable. Values were reportable in two columns, the first to be the cost of face value and the second to be the book, market, or estimated value. Cost was defined as original cost to the person reporting regardless of the date on which incurred, and without inclusion of interest or carrying charges or deduction for depreciation, obsolescence, depletion, or revaluation, but excluding the cost of any portion of the property disposed of before May 1, 1943. Face value instead of cost was requested relating to securities and mortgages. Values expressed in terms of foreign currencies were convertible into dollars at rates specified in Public Circular No.2. If the rate for any jurisdiction was not included in the table, reporters were instructed to use the latest rate before May1, 1943, as generally quoted by foreign exchange dealers.

The data collected on the Form TFR-500's were analyzed and published in 1947 as a Treasury Department bulletin entitled Census of American-Owned Assets in Foreign Countries. According to this publication approximately 20,000 reports were filed by individuals, corporations, fiduciaries, and others liable under the reporting requirements. The reports were filed in duplicate with the Treasury Department in Washington or with the appropriate representatives of the Foreign Funds Control in the field or abroad. Those submitted elsewhere than to the central office of the FFC ultimately were forwarded to Washington. Most of the reports were filed in the period 1943-1945 but some amended reports were made after that date voluntarily or upon demand from the Treasury Department. The reporting requirements were suspended with the revocation of Public Circular No. 22, as amended, on June 8, 1946.

The Treasury Department retained both the original and duplicate reports and both collections were accessioned by the National Archives. The original reports in the "A" series were filed alphabetically within the four sub-series, and their related original "B" and "C" reports were filed with the appropriate series "A" reports. Although the requirements specified that the reports were to be filed in duplicate, exhibits were nevertheless frequently filed in single copy only. In such cases the exhibits generally were associated with the related original form report. The duplicate TFR-500's were not arranged in the same manner as the original filings. The chief difference being that the related series "B" and "C" reports were not associated with the series "A" reports but were maintained in an arrangement by country and thereunder alphabetically. Because the original and duplicate reports were arranged differently and because the only duplicates that were used as the "work copies" show the conversion of foreign currency values into United States dollars, it was decided to retain the entire collection intact.

TFR-500 Original Reports Series A-I (Reports by Individuals) 1943-1945 (Entry 1)

A typical file consists of the original signed copy of the Series A-I "Summary Report," and related copies (originals, usually) of Series B "Detailed Property Report" with respect to each foreign country in which reportable property was located and of Series C "Report of Interests in Primary Allied Organizations." Also included in some case files are letters received and copies of letters sent by the FFC concerning the filing and acceptability of the reporting forms.The Series A-I reports are usually stamped to indicate place and date of receipt.Those filled by the FFC on the basis of information furnished by the individual are marked to indicate that fact.

The Series A-I reports are one-page documents of four parts. Parts A and B give information concerning persons reporting (name, address, citizenship status, nationalization data) and a summary of property in foreign countries (from the Series B report), respectively. Part C indicates name of person preparing the document if other than the person who owns the property or by one of his "regular employees." Part D is the affidavit portion of the report.

The Series B "Detailed Property Report," submitted for each country or "jurisdiction" in which there was reportable property, and filed with the related Series A-I report contain information on the cost or face value and on the book, market or estimated value "as required" for each of the several types of property held as of May 31, 1943, and on total indebtedness to foreign persons that is secured by property reported on the form, and descriptions of property items of types specified in instructions for submitting the report. Also reported are names, addresses, and citizenship of each person other than the reporting individual who has any interest whatsoever in any item of property listed (with certain exceptions), including any indebtedness secured by the property.

The Series B report form (as well as the Series C form mentioned below)also requested descriptions of circumstances if certain types of property were"believed to have been damaged, destroyed, or seized between January 1, 1938, andMay 31, 1943, as a result of war or a 'scorched-earth' policy carried on by any country at war with the United States." Instructions on the use of the Series B form, however, stated that reports did not in any way constitute a registry of claims against enemy or enemy-occupied countries.

The Series C "Reports on Interests in Primary Allied Organizations," submittedf or each such organization (including each foreign branch) and for each foreign country or "jurisdiction" contain the name and address of the persons reporting and of the organization, information on the type of organization its "chief types of business," the principal properties, location of factories, names of directors and other data relating to ownership and interrelationships with other foreign organizations. Attachments such as statements of assets and liabilities are found with some of the Series C reports. Arranged alphabetically by name of persons shown on the Series A-I reports. Boxes 1-458

TFR-500 Original Reports Series A II (By Organizations) 1943-1945 (Entry 2)

The records in this series are comparable to those described in Entry I in physically characteristics. The related Series B and C reports (usually originals) are physically attached to the primary document, the Series II "Summary Report by Organization," as are related documents such as correspondence, statements of assets and liabilities, profit and loss statements, etc., and the reports are usually stamped to indicate date and place of receipt. The Series A-II reports are one-page documents of four parts. Parts A and B give information concerning the reporting organization (name, address, type of organization, statement of gross assets as of May 31, 1943, names of directors, etc.), and a summary of property in foreign countries (from the Series B report), respectively. Part C indicates name of person or persons preparing the report if other than "regular officers or employees of the reported." The series B and C reports filed with the Series A-II reports are comparable in content to those described in Entry 1.An occasional Series C Supplement "Report of Interests in Secondary Allied Organizations" is found with the files. Arranged alphabetically by names of organizations shown on the Series A-II reports. Boxes 459-575

TFR-500 Original Reports Series AIII (By Executors or Trustees) 1943-1945 (Entry 3)

The Series A-III reports are one-page documents of four parts comparable to those on the Series A-I and A-II reports. Information concerning the estate or trust reported on includes name, date of creation, statement of gross domestic and foreign assets, "name, address and citizenship of each person having any power of appointment, or any other right or power to direct or control the distribution of the corpus or income," name, address, and citizenship of each beneficiary, other than unknown beneficiaries, and full description of any power of revocation. As in the case of Entries 1 and 2 there are separate Series B and C reports for each foreign country in which property reported on is located. Arranged alphabetically by name of estate or trust. Boxes 576-652 TFR-500 Original Reports Series A-IV (By Custodians or Nominees) 1943-1945 (Entry 4)

Reports on property (primarily securities) held by American custodians and nominees of foreign assets on behalf of persons resident in foreign countries, with supporting documents comparable to those found in the series A-I, A-II, and A-III case files. Information concerning the "account" includes name of account, and name, address, and citizenship of each owner not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Information concerning the custodian or nominee includes name, address, citizenship or political entity under which organization was effected, and relationship to account. Arranged alphabetically by name of account. Boxes 653-701; Boxes 688-695-Swiss Banks

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series AI, AII, and AIII Reports (Entry 5)

A single alphabetical file of the duplicate copies of the Series A-I, A-II, and A-III reports described in Entries 1, 2, and 3. This series consists only of the form reports specified, there being no related papers attached to the reports. The duplicate copies were used as work copies in the Treasury Department in converting foreign currency values into United States dollars, for adjusting reported value figures, and for statistical purposes. Arranged alphabetically by name of reporter, irrespective of type of series. Boxes 702-883

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series A IV (Entry 6)

Duplicate copies of the Series A-IV reports described in Entry 4. These duplications were used for the same purposes as those indicated in Entry 5. The reports are without attached or related documents. Arranged alphabetically by names of accounts. Boxes 884-895A

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series AI Unnecessary Reports AI-IVS 1943-1945 (Entry 7)

Duplicates of original reports apparently excluded from statistical analyses made by the FFC as reports that were not necessary under announced requirements. The Series A-I reports are filed in one alphabetical sequences; the Series A-II, A-III, and A-IV reports are intermixed and are in no apparent order. Boxes 1216-1226

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series B-Detailed Property Reports 1943-1945 (Entry 8)

Duplicate copies of the Series B reports that are filed with the related original reports in A series reports. Arranged alphabetically by country, thereunder by number in a series apparently assigned in the statistical analysis work done by the FFC. Boxes 896-1215 Boxes 1192-1194 Switzerland

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series C-Reports of Interests in Primary Allied Organizations 1943-1945 (Entry 9)

Duplicate copies of the Series C reports that are filed with the related original reports in A series reports. Filed with some of the reports are a FFC Form 171 "Adjustment Sheet" apparently used by the FFC in its statistical analysis work. Arranged alphabetically by country, thereunder by name of primary allied organization. Boxes 1227-1254 Boxes 1248-1249 Switzerland

TFR-500 Duplicate Reports Series C Supplement Reports of Interests in Secondary Allied Organizations 1943-1945 (Entry 10)

Duplicate copies of the Series C reports that filed with the related original records in the A Series described in preceding entries. Filed with some of the reports are a FFC Form 170 "Analysis Sheet" apparently used by the FFC in its statistical analysis work. Arranged alphabetically by country, thereunder by name of secondary allied organization. Boxes 1255-1275

TFR-500 Statistical Control Sheets 1945 (Entry 11)

This series contains two groups of control sheets, both of which may have been produced in the course of preparing the bulletin referred to in the introduction. One group of sheets (on FFC form 144) title "Summary Control, Series A-B (I, II, and IV)" bears the following typewritten identification: "Alphabetical index of United States corporations having foreign subsidiaries/November 15, 1945." The data on the sheets appear to be based on information reported in the Series "C" reports. The other and larger group of sheets (on FFC forms 141) bears the following typewritten identification: "Listing, by Showing Worth of Foreign Companies/Nov. 15, 1945." The sheets, though perforated, are connected and some in the latter group are in duplicate with carbon paper between the copies. Entries on the sheets in the first group are alphabetical by name of corporation; those in the second by number assigned in the FFC. Boxes 1276-1277

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