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Poland and Ukraine resist restitution of heirless Holocaust property
Haaretz ^ | 03/06/2009 | Cnaan Liphshiz

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 ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: jewish; jews; poland; ukraine
According to article 935 § 1 of Polish Civil Code - if there are no heirs left at the moment of death of the owner of any property - the inheritance goes to the commune, where the owner had been living right before he died. If his last address remains unknown - the inferitance goes to the State Treasury.

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.

1 posted on 06/04/2009 1:46:21 PM PDT by lizol
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To: mstar; se99tp; AdvisorB; onedoug; AnalogReigns; The_Media_never_lie; dixiebelle; voteNRA; ...
Eastern European ping list


FRmail me to be added or removed from this Eastern European ping list

2 posted on 06/04/2009 1:47:21 PM PDT by lizol
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To: lizol

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.


3 posted on 06/04/2009 1:52:39 PM PDT by brooklyn dave (First Atlas Shrugged, now he's screaming his a$$ off.)
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To: lizol

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.


4 posted on 06/04/2009 1:53:22 PM PDT by Brookhaven (Obama hasn't just open Pandora's box, he has thrown us inside and closed the lid.)
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To: brooklyn dave

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?


5 posted on 06/04/2009 1:55:28 PM PDT by Brookhaven (Obama hasn't just open Pandora's box, he has thrown us inside and closed the lid.)
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To: Brookhaven
If nothing else, the money should be used to benefit Jews still living in Poland.

They should take their case to the German government.

6 posted on 06/04/2009 1:57:16 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: Brookhaven; lizol
So it logically follows that the Polish government should benefit?

Again, as Lizol indicated, those Jews were Polish citizens before the war.

7 posted on 06/04/2009 1:59:20 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: lizol

Vocabulary fail for the delegates.

By definition if it is heir-less there is no one with a rightful claim to it.


8 posted on 06/04/2009 2:04:06 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: Brookhaven

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?


9 posted on 06/04/2009 2:09:16 PM PDT by lizol
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To: Brookhaven

what gives these organizations the right to the property?


10 posted on 06/04/2009 2:09:50 PM PDT by brooklyn dave (First Atlas Shrugged, now he's screaming his a$$ off.)
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To: MrEdd
"restitution"

Function:
noun

Etymology:
Middle English restitucioun, from Anglo-French, from Latin restitution-, restitutio, from restituere to restore, from re- + statuere to set up — more at statute

Date:
14th century

1: an act of restoring or a condition of being restored: as a: a restoration of something to its rightful owner b: a making good of or giving an equivalent for some injury
2: a legal action serving to cause restoration of a previous state

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/restitution
11 posted on 06/04/2009 2:14:12 PM PDT by lizol
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To: brooklyn dave; Brookhaven

Let’s establish some organisation, invite several Jewish people to become members and maybe we can get some “restoration” too.


12 posted on 06/04/2009 2:16:39 PM PDT by lizol
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To: lizol

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.


13 posted on 06/04/2009 2:17:39 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
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.

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.

14 posted on 06/04/2009 2:19:19 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: lizol

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.


15 posted on 06/04/2009 2:20:11 PM PDT by SJackson (in the fight against terrorism, no middle ground, half-measures leave you half-exposed, D. Cheney)
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To: Brookhaven

Do you agree with reparations for relatives of slaves in this country?


16 posted on 06/04/2009 2:21:26 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: SJackson
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?

Not exactly
There was such an idea, but it has never came real.

As for today - Polish authorities are working on a compensation law, that is supposed to give back some part (20% or so) of the property lost during the war, or right after - to the people, who were Polish citizens at that time and who lost the property (or the legal heirs of those people) - regardless of the fact where the've been living today, what nationality they are, or what citizenship they hold.

Which is fair, IMHO.
Polish state just can't afford full compensation.
17 posted on 06/04/2009 2:33:17 PM PDT by lizol
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To: dfwgator

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.


18 posted on 06/04/2009 3:07:43 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: lizol
I know it's just in the discussion stage, but that strikes me as reasonable. I didn't think the current citizenship requirement was.

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.

19 posted on 06/04/2009 3:59:20 PM PDT by SJackson (in the fight against terrorism, no middle ground, half-measures leave you half-exposed, D. Cheney)
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To: dfwgator
Do you agree with reparations for relatives of slaves in this country?

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.

20 posted on 06/04/2009 4:03:19 PM PDT by SJackson (in the fight against terrorism, no middle ground, half-measures leave you half-exposed, D. Cheney)
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To: SJackson
A sad situation all around. What of entire Jewish villages wiped out, then native Poles moving into the old buildings? The Poles suffered terribly during the Nazi occupation, too. Most complicated situation.
21 posted on 06/04/2009 4:20:01 PM PDT by Ciexyz (I heard Joe the Plumber speak 03-30-2009.)
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To: Ciexyz
What of entire Jewish villages wiped out, then native Poles moving into the old buildings?

Not to mention Russians kicking Poles out of the areas absorbed into the Soviet Union after the war.

22 posted on 06/04/2009 4:22:30 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: SJackson
All very good observations. I would add...

--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?

23 posted on 06/04/2009 4:39:16 PM PDT by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: Ciexyz; dfwgator
A sad situation all around. What of entire Jewish villages wiped out, then native Poles moving into the old buildings? The Poles suffered terribly during the Nazi occupation, too. Most complicated situation.

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.

24 posted on 06/04/2009 5:54:35 PM PDT by SJackson (in the fight against terrorism, no middle ground, half-measures leave you half-exposed, D. Cheney)
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To: SJackson
. I believe Poland has/is attempting to address situations like this caused by the Polish communist government.

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.

25 posted on 06/04/2009 5:56:33 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: yankeedame; lizol
Yes, those are all problems. In my comment I was thinking of the restoration of homes and estates in eastern Europe to their pre-Communist owners. A few years ago I posted an article about a former royal of some sort, Europe has so many of those, who recovered his family estate and started a vinyard. Where there isn't real property to be returned, you can't do justice. And where there's the family farm that's now an airport, you just have to leave that to the courts. Though if Poland has empathatic judges like our nominee, they might give the whole country away.

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.

26 posted on 06/04/2009 6:00:47 PM PDT by SJackson (in the fight against terrorism, no middle ground, half-measures leave you half-exposed, D. Cheney)
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To: SJackson
They are building this on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto, it is due to be completed in 2011, looks very impressive: Museum of the History of Polish Jews
27 posted on 06/04/2009 6:16:07 PM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: brooklyn dave
It was the Nazis who sent Jews to the death camps, not Poland (there was no Ukraine then).
In years 1939-1945 there was no Poland also as it was partitioned between German 3rd Reich and Soviet Union
Just to make the picture clear ;)
28 posted on 06/05/2009 5:40:01 AM PDT by Verdelet (Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori!)
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To: lizol

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.


29 posted on 06/05/2009 6:05:21 AM PDT by Borax Queen
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To: lizol

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....


30 posted on 06/05/2009 9:57:25 AM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: Brookhaven

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.


31 posted on 06/05/2009 10:03:45 AM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: AnalogReigns
Something like 9 MILLION non-Jewish Poles—were also murdered by the Nazis

You forgot to add, "AND the Soviets."

32 posted on 06/05/2009 10:05:48 AM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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To: dfwgator

Very true. But the topic of the article was about Nazi era property seizures.


33 posted on 06/05/2009 10:52:54 AM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: AnalogReigns

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.


34 posted on 06/05/2009 10:55:58 AM PDT by dfwgator (USM is Gator Bait! (Congrats to U-Dub!))
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