Former MK and former Israeli ambassador to Poland Shevah Weiss this week gave an extensive interview to the Polish nationwide daily Rzeczpospolita, insisting Poland must pay compensation to its Jews for their lost property (Szewach Weiss o “lex TVN”: USA dadzą sobie radę z Polską).
The former Israeli ambassador said that “after the war, terrible anti-Semitism appeared in Poland, for example during the Kielce pogrom. My family fled Poland just then. As a result, 100,000 Jews fled Poland in one year and they had to leave their property behind.”
The Kielce pogrom, on July 4, 1946, was a violent attack on the Jewish community center in the city of Kielce where Jewish refugees had gathered after the liberation of the Nazi-built death camps in Poland. Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians killed 42 Jews and injured more than 40. Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes. It was the deadliest pogrom against Polish Jews after the Second World War, and it took place only one year after the end of the Holocaust.
Weiss stressed that “the difficulties in regaining this property are enormous,” because most of the Jews who lived in Poland died during the war, leaving their unclaimed property behind.
“You must not create a new harm based on an old harm,” Weiss told Rzeczpospolita. “The fact that this property is not in Jewish hands is because there are no Jews to seize it today. Of course, you can’t knock on a door now and drive a Polish family out of there, I would never allow it. That’s why you have to deal with this issue differently.”
When asked how Poland should solve this issue, Weiss suggested that Poland must finally “resolve the issue of re-privatization.” There are various possibilities for Poland to compensate Jews, he explained. “We’ll never get the real sum, it’s impossible because Poland has lost a lot and cannot pay that much. Great efforts were needed to rebuild it from the rubble. A nice and human atmosphere is needed here, it is very important. But this problem must be finally dealt with,” he insisted.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said recently that he had no intention of handing out one euro, and that the Poles deserve reparations from the Germans because they destroyed Poland. When asked if Poland was right to demand reparations from Germany, Weiss noted: “If the Polish prime minister talks about the Germans, he is right. I don’t think he was speaking in the context of Israel. If he had said that, I would have argued with him.”