Study: Several European countries failed to return property stolen from Holocaust victims

Several European countries have failed to restitute the property plundered and stolen from Jews during the Holocaust.

A new study that looks at progress made by European countries in restituting the property plundered and stolen from Jews during the Holocaust found that while some Eastern European states have “substantially” complied with their pledges, others have done too little and are still in possession of stolen property.

The Immovable Property Restitution Study, released on Monday as Israel marked its Holocaust Remembrance Day, by the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI) examined whether European countries have complied with 2009 Terezin Declaration, a joint pledge by 47 states to make efforts to restitute the lost property.

The study faulted Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina in particular for failing to enact any legislation to address the problem. The two countries stand alone as the only countries that have failed to establish a comprehensive private property restitution regime for property taken either during the Holocaust or in the subsequent Communist Era.

Countries in Western Europe began taking steps soon after World War II to address the injustice of stolen property, but the takeover by communists across Eastern Europe stalled the process.

In some cases, property that was restituted early on was later confiscated by communist regimes.

Restoring Justice

“This thorough and historic report lays out in detail what has been achieved and what still remains to be done. As the report notes, ordinary laws are for ordinary events, but the Holocaust calls for extraordinary laws to address and properly compensate for the huge injustice that was inflicted on Jewish people and other persecuted groups,” said ESLI Director Anezka Nekovarova.

“The study is meant as a supportive tool which should help the states of the Terezin Declaration alleviate the hardship of our Jewish compatriots. Its main goal is to inspire their governments how to move further on the common way to some restored justice,” noted Chairman of the ESLI Administrative Board Tomas Kafka.

ESLI was established in 2010 to monitor the signatory states’ progress and advocate for the principles enshrined in the Terezin Declaration.

By publishing the Study, ESLI hopes Jewish and non-Jewish claimants, heirs, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders will have a resource where all significant Holocaust restitution legislation and case law dealing with immovable property over the last 70 years has been compiled and analyzed.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News