Poland urged to do more to provide restitution to Holocaust victims

Dozens of British parliamentarians have written to Poland’s Prime Minister urging his country to do more to provide restitution to Holocaust victims whose property was seized during the war.

They said Britain should increase its work to aid survivors now living in this country who are seeking the return of their belongings, or compensation.

Restitution issues were due to be raised in Parliament on Thursday, with Baroness Deech (below right) leading a House of Lords Grand Committee debate.

Peers were expected to discuss what Britain’s priorities should be as it chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2014.

Poland has repeatedly been criticised for ignoring claims. The country has no law on restitution for private property stolen during the Holocaust.

The letter, signed by MPs including Luciana Berger, Sir Alan Beith and Mike Freer, and peers including Lord Fink, Baroness Neuberger and Lord Palmer, states:

“Poland has a responsibility to elderly Holocaust survivors, their heirs and other victims to return their property which was seized by the Nazis or subsequently nationalised by the Communist regimes.”

They claimed that Poland “stands out” in its “failure”.

The politicians were backed by the Board of Deputies, Holocaust Educational Trust and Association of Jewish Refugees.

Board president Vivian Wineman said there were “great expectations” that Britain’s chairing of the IHRA would “help to ensure that international guidelines on returning Holocaust-era property will be applied”.

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, who also signed the letter, said restitution was “a moral issue of the highest order”.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would use its chairmanship of the IHRA to promote Shoah education.

Last updated: 1:12pm, February 27 2014