web analytics
May 5, 2015 / 16 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Private Restitution Proposal Possible

The issue of restitution for private property owned by Jews in Poland has long been a sore spot for many Jews of Polish origin. Before the Shoah, there were 3.5 million Jews living in Poland. While many were very poor, a large number owned property, ranging from small plots of land to major estates. During World War II, the Germans confiscated all the property belonging to Jews. After the war, when some Jews returned, they were often attacked – as in the Kielce pogrom of July 4, 1946, which compelled many Jews to leave the country. During the Communist era, much of the remaining property was confiscated by the state or claimed by the non-Jews now living in an almost Jew-free society.


Last week a draft resolution was announced that for the first time, would allow for financial compensation to claimants and the heirs of people of Polish origin who are not Polish citizens.


Over the years, every time I met a Polish official, I would ask, “What about restitution?” I was often told that the issue was complicated since “so many people lost so much during the war.”


The claim was that if Poland, a poor country, were be forced to give compensation to foreigners for abandoned property, the country would be broke because the bill would amount to billions of dollars.


Over the years, there have been many ideas thrown about on how to resolve the issue – ranging from handing over the deeds to the property to maintaining the status quo. The latest proposal is for compensation for between 15-20 percent of the value of the property.


This proposal has been criticized for being too little, and some are even calling it an insult. “Twenty percent of the value of my home,” one survivor said, “is not even worth the interest I would have gotten on the worth of the property if I had gotten the money on time and put it into the bank. It is an insult.”


The proposed compensation bill, which will apply within the current boundaries of Poland, is expected to cost the country some $10 billion.


“It is outrageous that the Polish government is inheriting 80 percent of the value of the homes of the few thousand Jews who survived,” said Yehuda Evron, president of the Holocaust Restitution Committee, which represents 3,000 potential heirs in the United States, Israel, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.


It is important to note that the Jewish claims for property restitution are expected to amount to only about 20 percent of the total claims, as many non-Jewish Poles also have claims against the government.


There are problems with any restitution bill. Proving that a property belonged to a claimant can be a major obstacle for people outside Poland. Many records were destroyed, and even those that still exist are buried in Polish archives.


There is a question of who should pay for searches of such archives- – claimants or the government. Who should perform the searches and should there be a time limit on claims? In the coming months, there will be a series of meetings between the Polish government and various Jewish organizations, including the Claims Conference, to try to clarify many of these issues.


Another issue of major concern is the property for which there are no heirs to file a claim. In many cases whole families were murdered and there is nobody to lay claim to their property. Many Jewish organizations representing Jews from all over the world would like any money realized from heirless property claims to be used to fund the preservation of Jewish heritage.


The Polish secretary of state, Ryszard Schnepf, whose father was a leader of the Polish Jewish community during the Communist regime, is the leading proponent of the new compensation bill. Due to a major disagreement with the government over Poland joining a Russian-German oil pipeline, he has resigned, leading many to fear that the compensation bill will be delayed again. A meeting between Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and leaders of the Claims Conference was canceled last week.


The current compensation bill is not the first to be brought to the Polish government. Six years ago, President Aleksander Kwasniewski rejected legislation offering full compensation to those who were Polish citizens before 1999.


A compensation law regarding community property enabled many Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and school buildings to be returned to the Jewish community in Poland. There have been several ongoing preservation projects that would not have been possible without the passing of the communal property restitution law.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Private Restitution Proposal Possible”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
New York Police Department
NYPD Cop Dies 2 Days After Shooting, 3rd in 5 Months
Latest Sections Stories
Safar-050115-Califlower

Cauliflower is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with – it blends so easily into whatever dish I am preparing.

Eller-050115-Fruit

For all their deliciousness, frozen beverages do not stand the test of time well, as any ice or frozen fruit thickening your drink will melt into a watery mess.

blintze_cake

“DouxMatok’s technology will allow for a reduction of 30-60 percent of sugar in a product, depending on the application, and with no effect on taste.”

Schonfeld-logo1

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Someone close to us knew that you were good at saving marriages and begged us to give therapy one last chance,

Rabbi Pinni Dunner and Holocaust survivor Heddy Orden.

He wrote a strong defense of shechitah in which he maintained that the Jewish method of slaughter had a humanitarian influence on the Jewish people.

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be the keynote speaker at the Westchester Government Relations Legislative Breakfast on Friday, May 8, at 7:45 am at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison.  The annual event, which brings together important elected officials and the Westchester Jewish community, is sponsored jointly by UJA-Federation of New York […]

“Like other collaborative members, we embarked on this journey as an opportunity to build on New York leadership’s long commitment to expand and diversify opportunities for Jewish teen engagement,” says Melanie Schneider, senior planning executive with UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal

The poetry slam required entrants to compose original poetry with powerful imagery and energetic rhythm bringing their poems to life – making it palpable to the audience.

“I was so inspired by the beautiful lessons I learned and by the holiness around me that I just couldn’t stop writing songs!” she says.

More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Lauder receiving a special album from Rabbi Maciej Pawlak, director of the Lauder-Morasha school in Warsaw.

In 1989 he hosted a dinner for 157 young Jews with the late Rabbi Chaskel Besser and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland was born.

Part of the reconstructed Gwozdziec Synagogue.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is designed to tell the whole thousand-year story of the Jews in Poland.

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/private-restitution-proposal-possible/2006/05/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: