Skip to comments.Poland and Ukraine resist restitution of heirless Holocaust property
Posted on 06/04/2009 1:46:20 PM PDT by lizol
Poland and Ukraine resist restitution of heirless Holocaust property
By Cnaan Liphshiz
Just three weeks before an international conference on Holocaust assets, Jewish and Eastern European delegates are still debating whether countries like Poland and Ukraine should give back heirless property that belonged to murdered Jews.
While those countries have opposed restitution of property whose owners left behind no heirs, Jewish representatives of the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, scheduled to open in Prague on June 26, say such property should go to Jewish organizations in lieu of heirs.
"Until now, certain countries have resisted restitution for lost heirless property, citing laws that state that such property should go to their treasuries," said David Peleg, the newly appointed director of the World Jewish Organization for Property Return. "We don't agree with this assertion."
Peleg estimates the value of heirless Jewish property in Poland alone at billions of dollars.
"The reason there's so much unclaimed property is because the Nazis killed off whole families," he said.
The conference, which will bring together representatives of some 50 countries and 30 non-governmental organizations, is the first wide-scale forum involving assets from several countries to convene in over a decade, since the Washington Conference of 1998. Israeli officials say the conference may be the last opportunity to set principles that could lead to wide-scale compensation for lost Jewish property.
Asked whether he thought the recalcitrant Eastern European countries would eventually come around, Peleg would only say that "this is achievable." He said the U.S. State Department's involvement in the issue "has been very helpful."
Former Mossad official Reuven Merhav, who will head Israel's delegation to Prague, called the negotiations "intensive" and "delicate."
(Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
Period. End of discussion.
Those people were citizens of Poland, and I see no reason why today's Polish state is supposed to give any "compensation" for their property to anyone.
These Jewish organizations are making a big mistake if they continue to push. It is a move for self enrichment by these organizations, and how can it be seen as anything else. It was the Nazis who sent Jews to the death camps, not Poland (there was no Ukraine then). It will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of the locals, who don’t have warm cuddly feelings toward Jews to begin with.
I think we have a unique situation here, and it needs to be handled uniquely.
These people didn’t leave any ancestors because their entire families were wiped out (simply because of their religion.) The law needs to be amended.
If nothing else, the money should be used to benefit Jews still living in Poland. They can make an argument they are at least distanly related to the original property holders.
Yes, the Jews were wiped out by the NAZIs. An evil crime by any definiton. So it logically follows that the Polish government should benefit?
They should take their case to the German government.
Again, as Lizol indicated, those Jews were Polish citizens before the war.
Vocabulary fail for the delegates.
By definition if it is heir-less there is no one with a rightful claim to it.
I can’t agree with you.
Let’s imagine, that today somewhere in Poland an entire family gets murdered (I hope it’s not going to happen, actually). They leave no ancestors, as they “were wiped out” - as you put it. Simply because of ... any reason (greed, hate, anything).
Would you amend the law for such a case too?
what gives these organizations the right to the property?
Let’s establish some organisation, invite several Jewish people to become members and maybe we can get some “restoration” too.
Eastern European countries will likely not do this, because there is far too much potential redistribution beyond just the Jews.
For example, Poland took most of the country of Prussia, which before the Nazis took it with duplicity, had been a reasonably liberal democracy. And the US and the other western nations stood by and did nothing in 1947 as it was annexed, and its people killed or ethnically cleansed.
Lest it be said that they were likewise Germans, so had all of Germany to flee to, ethnically the Prussians were a Baltic people, related to the Lithuanians and Latvians. Its original capital was Königsberg, which is still claimed by Russia, after it was repopulated with Russians.
That was Uncle Joe's call, not Poland's. Poles wanted the 39 borders restored, but the Soviet Union took most of the part of Poland they took in '39, and then gave Poland the land from the Germans. Poles had no say in their current borders.
A couple questions. Though the article doesn’t mention it, I right in assuming this also covers non-Jews? Your comment regarding heirless property makes sense. My recollection from a couple years ago was that potential heirs must live in Poland, thus property with known heirs living in other countries would be disinherited. I assume that’s not the case here? Also, I thought only property lost to the communists was at issue, Poland not having a collaborationalist government during WWII.
Do you agree with reparations for relatives of slaves in this country?
Which I don’t suppose matters much, except to those who would demand Poland give further. And give, and give, and give. And therein lies the problem.
Personally, I'm in favor of restoration of property. If your art collection was stolen, and you can prove ownership, you get it back. No different than if your car was stolen. If your art collection was stolen and it's never come to light, that's life, you get nothing. I'm comfortable with similar resolution of real estate claims. And bank accounts and insurance policies. Obviously subject to local law.
What's a bit different here is that you seem to be dealing with assets converted to currency by the "government", most of which no longer exist, thus compensation in some amount. Thanks from reminding us that this isn't a 100% of value thing. While that seems reasonable for Communist era takings, there was no Polish government during the Nazi years, Poles being subject to enslavement, the nation to be assimilated into the Reich. I don't see how funds from Nazi era confiscations could have gone to any predecessor of the current Polish government, or where they'd have any liability.
Personally I'd be OK with compensation for slaves and even their first generation offspring. I thought Sherman's 40 acres and a mule was a good idea.
Not to mention Russians kicking Poles out of the areas absorbed into the Soviet Union after the war.
--The condition of the land itself. How much land? What are the resources to/on it? What, if any, improvements? Is it (still) a howling wilderness or has it become part of the grounds of an international airport? Would those seeking this particular plot of land then be charged for any and all post-WWII improvemets, even monifications, on/to this same land over the previous 60+ years?
--The statue of the land in question. Is it still in limbo, after 60 years? Is it currently generating taxes? Has it been sold to (a) private individual(s) and/or businesses? If so, where does this leave the current owners?
It is, Russian abuses have to be taken up with the Russians. I believe Poland has/is attempting to address situations like this caused by the Polish communist government. And no, justice can't be achieved.
Yes,the 1968 forced emigration of most of the remaining Polish Jews was a shameful episode in Polish history, and the Communist traitors responsible should have been brought to justice.
Maybe lizol can help, but I believe Poland has returned public building, Synagoges and such, to the Jewish community. That's what I was referring to. It becomes more complicated when you're dealing with individual situations, it becomes a $$ thing. You can't compensate for the missed opportunities of the last 60 years. Particularly for those who survived.
I think it all pans out in the wash or something.
My parents were upper middle-class in one of the republics, and were slated to be deported via cattle car or worse.
Russian Jews “temporarily” occupied my parents’/grandparents’ homes. These homes were actually quite modest, not that that mattered to those who hated Catholics/Christians and anyone making above a certain amount. [Gee, this sounds familiar.]
So, of course, they were unable to return to their country and homes since Communist-sympathizer FDR betrayed the republics at Yalta.
Almost 50 years later, they could have had their houses back, but couldn’t afford the legal fees, don’t have the political power, and frankly, wanted to put the past behind them, not dwell in self-inflicted misery as some other war survivors are apt to do.
The sad thing is, Jewish organizations fighting tooth and nail to gain such assets, simply feed the existing prejudices of latent anti-Semitism in Poland, and elsewhere.
This is the same reason why racial/ethnic quotas are counter-productive to ending racist attitudes....
It is normal longstanding law that assets with no heirs go to the Polish governeent—which had nothing to do with the Nazis.
Something like 9 MILLION non-Jewish Poles—were also murdered by the Nazis (more than the total number of Jews killed in all Nazi-controlled Europe)—and I have no doubt that their heir-less property also went to the Polish government.
Given that all kinds of people suffered 70 years ago under the Nazis, why should current day Jewish people be given advantages under the law?
The Holocaust was a LOT bigger than just killing Jews.
You forgot to add, "AND the Soviets."
Very true. But the topic of the article was about Nazi era property seizures.
Shouldn’t matter whether they were Polish Christians or Polish Jews, or whether they were murdered by Nazis or Soviets. In the end they were all dead, and should be treated equally under the law.