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Auschwitz town seeking lost landowners

    The municipality of Oswiecim — the Polish name for Auschwitz — has recently turned to Yad Vashem for help in locating owners of Jewish property left in the town since the Second World War.

    Maria Pedrak, Oswiecim’s deputy mayor, has written to the Israeli Holocaust research centre asking for details of two Jewish women who owned property in the town.

    The letter reads: “We are writing with reference to many properties or pieces of real estate that belong to Jewish citizens in our town of Oswiecim. For many years, the owners of these properties have had no interest in them, have not taken care of them and we have no information about them and their fate after the Second World War. We wish to secure rights of these owners… [Aside from their names] we know nothing about the owners: Aschkenasowa Cypriana and Weimanowa Stella. Please send any information you have.”

    Serafima Velkovich, who works in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, has been trying to collect the information, but without success.

    Katarzyna Kwiciien, spokeswoman for the municipality of Oswiecim, explained why the municipality had decided to locate Jewish property owners. “In accordance with Polish law, if the owner of a plot of land intends to invest in it, the owners of any neighbouring plots must be notified. We are, therefore, looking for the owners of properties neighbouring a location in the Old Town where new investment is proposed.

    “We also asked the Jewish Community of Krakow, the Jewish Community of Warsaw and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw for help.”

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