‘Major step forward’ for Shoah claims

By Nathan Jeffay, March 15, 2013
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An Israeli delegation to Warsaw has held “unprecedented” discussions about securing compensation for Jewish families who lost assets in Poland during the Holocaust.

Until now, Warsaw has maintained that anybody wanting to make a claim should do so through the courts, which is too costly and complicated for many families. But Bobby Brown, who headed the Israeli delegation, said on his return to Jerusalem: “I believe we have opened a dialogue and I believe for the first time they are listening.”

Mr Brown is director of Project Heart, an initiative of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency dedicated to securing compensation. Rafi Eitan, the former Mossad official who led the capture of Adolf Eichmann and is now Project Heart’s chairman, was part of the five-person delegation.

Mr Brown said that they met politicians and representatives of all the government ministries that may deal with claims if a channel for processing them is opened, conveying the message that forcing claimants to go through the courts is “bad for Poland” as well as for survivor families. The atmosphere was “friendly and very substantive”.

He said that there was a real urgency to the issue. “For too long most of the Jewish world dealt only with communal property, spending so long fighting over this or that cemetery that they didn’t get to personal claims,” he said. “But we feel that you can’t say to an 85-year-old survivor: ‘wait.’”

Last updated: 11:45am, March 15 2013