Jan 2007 Journal

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Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Czech art deadline abolished

Politicians in the Czech Republic voted overwhelmingly last November to cancel the end-of-year deadline for applications in respect of Jewish-owned artworks appropriated during the Nazi occupation of the country.

A 2000 law provides for the return of state-owned property to Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs stolen between September 1938 and May 1945. The law was introduced following the establishment in 1998 of the Czech government commission to organise a search for lost works of art and to prepare legislation allowing confiscated property to be restored to the original owners.

To date, around 20,000 paintings and other works of art which originally belonged to Czech Jews have been found in various galleries and castles, with 13,000 having been discovered since 2002. However, only about 500 pieces have been returned to their original owners.

Claims can now be filed indefinitely for the artworks, which are displayed online at www.restitution-art.cz.


It is suggested that members be wary of signing power-of-attorney with unknown genealogists, solicitors and companies who offer to represent clients with Holocaust-era compensation and restitution claims.

Their strategy is to target heirs of Holocaust victims whose names appear on lists of unclaimed Holocaust-era assets such as dormant Swiss bank accounts. However, clients are not informed which assets have been identified until a power-of-attorney has been signed.

The compensation schemes with which they claim they can assist are often free, while their charges are exorbitant. Members may wish to consider revoking a previously signed power-of-attorney.

Written enquiries should be sent to Central Office for Holocaust Claims (UK), Jubilee House, Merrion Avenue, Stanmore, Middx HA7 4RL, by fax to 020 8385 3075, or by email to mnewman@ajr.org.uk.
Michael Newman

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