Foreign Ministry Blasts Polish Restitution Claims Proposal

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel is mounting a multi-phased diplomatic response to a Polish legislative proposal that would prevent many Holocaust survivors and their relatives from reclaiming property confiscated during World War II, or under post-WWII Soviet rule in Poland, Ynet reported on Thursday night.

The bill requires that a Holocaust survivor seeking to file a restitutions claim must be a current citizen of Poland or to have lived in the country when their property was seized by the post-war communist regime. That would exclude most claims, since some three million Polish Jews were killed, leaving no heirs; and most survivors fled the country, where violent anti-Semitism persisted even after the war.

In addition, the proposed law would only recognize claims made by children or grandchildren of the survivors. Other relatives, such as nieces and nephews, would not have their claims honored, even if they are the only surviving relatives.

Another provision says that survivors would not be able to submit claims for stocks that were in their property, and that any claims would have to be submitted within one year; afterward remaining properties will be transferred to the Polish Finance Ministry.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry submitted an official complaint to Polish Ambassador to Israel Jacek Chodorowicz on Thursday, protesting the injustice of such draconian requirements.

Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari will convey a similar letter of protest to the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Deputy Foreign Ministry Tzipi Hotovely has assigned her chief of staff to fly to Warsaw and speak to Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, a proponent of the bill.

World Jewish Restitution Organization Chairperson Ronald S. Lauder said that “we welcome the Israeli government’s requesting the Polish government act to rectify the bill regarding a return of property. It is a matter of justice, and we ask that the Polish government fix the proposed legislation to make sure it is fair for all claimants, including Holocaust survivors and their family members, in Israel and abroad.”