May 2008 Journal
Poland to enact restitution legislation
According to media reports, the government of Poland is committing itself to introducing property restitution legislation by the end of 2008. Although reports refer to property restitution, it is thought the bill will provide compensation of 20 per cent of a property’s value to former owners, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The law would apply to properties seized during the Second World War.
Precise details of the law have not yet been disclosed and it is also not clear whether the legislation will make provision for properties in the Galicia region, now located in Ukraine, outside the boundaries of present-day Poland.
Although a 1997 agreement provides for the return of public property in Poland and some claimants have secured restitution for their properties by bringing private cases directly to Polish courts, it is estimated that the total value of seized property is 16-18 billion euros (£12.5-14 billion).
Alongside the efforts of the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organisation representing Holocaust survivors and their families, Poland has also been lobbied by non-Jewish Polish nobility, whose extensive assets were confiscated.
Belgian compensation – a clarification
Reports at the beginning of March appeared to suggest that the Belgian government was introducing a new fund to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors who were persecuted or lost assets.
It transpires that these reports were misinterpreted and that the announcements were simply reporting on the monies that the Belgian government had already provided and distributed to Holocaust survivors and their families.
Under the Indemnification Commission for the Belgian Jewish Community’s Assets, 110 million euros (approximately £85 million) has been dispersed as reparations for a range of spoliations, including confiscation of personal belongings, life insurances and businesses, as well as in recognition of having been subjected to forced labour.