Lauder urges Polish law

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, has called on Poland to restore properties seized during the Second World War and the Communist era to their rightful owners.

“To deny the return of stolen property, or adequate compensation, violates basic democratic principles,” he wrote in the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita this week. “Such denial to a Holocaust victim is a double humiliation.”

On Wednesday, Mr Lauder met Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to discuss a bill, currently being drafted by the Polish government, offering restitution to private property owners. Although it passed a law offering compensation for stolen communal property in 1997,
Poland is the only member of the former Soviet bloc not to have moved to help individuals recover assets. “The Prime Minister indicated he would try to have legislation passed by October but there is no indication of what it would say,” Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference executive vice-president, told the JC.

The total value of lost property has been estimated at around 17 billion euros, though only a quarter of claimants are Jewish. Nevertheless, Mr Lauder intimated that the delay in restitution was caused by antisemitism.

Last week, Baroness Deech revealed to the JC that she had hired lawyers in a bid to force the Polish government to compensate her for properties belonging to her grandparents, confiscated during the Second World War.

    Last updated: 10:08am, June 19 2008