The Mattéoli Mission
The Working Party on the Spoliation of Jews in France, also known as the Mattéoli Mission after its President, was established by the French Prime Minister on 25 March 1997.
In a letter sent on 5 February 1997 to Mr Jean Mattéoli, then President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr Alain Juppé, Prime Minister, defined the objectives of this mission:
“[…] In order to fully inform the authorities and our fellow citizens about this painful part of our history, I wish to entrust you with the task of studying the conditions under which personal and real property belonging to Jews in France was confiscated or, generally speaking, acquired by fraud, violence or wilful misrepresentation, both by the occupant and by the Vichy authorities, between 1940 and 1944. In particular, I request that you seek to assess the extent of spoliation perpetrated thusly and that you indicate which categories of persons, natural or legal, were affected. I also request that you specify what happened to these assets from the end of the war until the present day. […]”
The Mattéoli Mission addressed, in particular, economic “aryanisation,” blocking of bank accounts, looting of homes, spoliation of property left by internees in the camps, insurance contracts and the intellectual property rights of songwriter-composers. These investigations are accompanied by precise statistical data that bears witness to the scope and nature of spoliation that took place: 80,000 bank accounts and 6,000 safe-deposit boxes blocked; 50,000 businesses “aryanised”; 40,000 apartments emptied of their contents; 100,000 art objects and millions of books stolen. They also specify the effects of restitution and compensation procedures implemented after 1945.
The findings of this investigation gave rise to a series of recommendations designed to consolidate work concerning remembrance of this period. On 17 November 1998, Mr Mattéoli recommended that the Prime Minister “create a body to examine individual claims by victims of anti-Semitic legislation established during the Occupation or their heirs. It would ensure the monitoring of claims processing and would be charged with providing responses, which could take the form of compensation. ”
Recommendation 8 of the General Report of the Mattéoli Mission sets down the general principle for individual compensation:
"When property, whose existence in 1940 is established, was the object of spoliation and has not been returned or compensated, there is a right to compensation regardless of the limitation periods in force. "
Following are links, in PDF format, to the reports of the Mission (general and sectoral) published by the Documentation française.
Rapport au Premier ministre de la Mission d’étude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France (Report to the Prime Minister of the Working Party on the Spoliation of Jews in France), Jean Mattéoli, 1997
Rapport général au Premier ministre de la Mission d’étude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France (General Report to the Prime Minister of the Working Party on the Spoliation of Jews in France), 2000
La Persécution des Juifs de France 1940-1944 et le rétablissement de la légalité républicaine : recueil des textes officiels 1940-1999 (The Persecution of Jews in France 1940-1944 and the Restoration of Republican Legality: collection of official texts 1940-1999). Working Party on the Spoliation of Jews in France, 2000. This report is available on-site at the Centre de documentation France - Europe - Monde
Le Pillage de l’art en France pendant l’occupation et la situation des 2000 œuvres confiées aux musées nationaux (The Looting of Art in France During the Occupation and the Status of 2,000 Works Entrusted to the National Museums), 2000
Les Biens des internés des camps de Drancy, Pithiviers et Beaune-la-Rolande (The Property of Internees of the Drancy, Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande Camps), 2000
Le Pillage des appartements et son indemnisation (The Looting of Apartments and Its Compensation), 2000
La Spoliation dans les camps de province (Spoliation in Camps in the Provinces), 2000
Aryanisation économique et restitutions (Economic Aryanisation and Compensation), 2000
La Sacem et les droits des auteurs et compositeurs juifs sous l’occupation (The SACEM and the Rights of Jewish Authors and Composers under the Occupation), 2000
La Spoliation financière. Volumes 1 et 2 (Financial Spoliation), 2000
Guide des recherches dans les archives des spoliations et des restitutions (Guide for Archival Research Concerning Spoliation and Compensation), 2000
Eléments de réflexion sur l’indemnisation des veuves et orphelins des déportés juifs de France (Elements of Reflection on Compensation for Widows and Orphans of Jews Deported from France) - Rapport de la Mission interministérielle d’étude sur l’indemnisation des victimes de la déportation (Report of the Interministerial Task Force on Compensation for Victims of the Deportation), 2000