US investigators have confiscated 17 artifacts stolen from Eastern European Jewish communities during World War II.

The documents from the 19th and 20th centuries should be sold by the New York auction house Kestenbaum & Company, said the Justice Department on Thursday.

The items also include records with the names of community members who were brought to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The artifacts were stolen "during the Holocaust from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine," said Peter Fitzhugh of the investigative department of the US Department of Homeland Security.

"We are happy to be part of the team that can return these artifacts to their rightful Jewish communities," he said.

The objects therefore include burial scrolls, manuscripts and community records.

The authorities became aware of the sales in February.

The auction house stopped this after a notification from the law enforcement authorities, but had already sold several objects beforehand.

In order to rule out further sales, the authorities decided to seize the property.

The Justice Department did not provide any information about when the items should be returned.