Little East Europe Progress on Nazi-Looted Property

Poland Is Worst Offender at Dragging Heels, Advocates Say

By JTA

Published December 02, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Baroness Ruth Deech, a property expert and member of Britain’s House of Lords, said Poland’s position is infuriating.

“Looking at it from the outside, we read that 60 percent of Poles oppose private restitution and that the Jewish community in Poland today is fearful that pressing for justice will give rise to anti-Semitism,” she told an audience at the Prague conference.

Poland’s chief rabbi, New York native Michael Schudrich, countered that Poles’ aversion toward restitution is economic, not anti-Semitic.

But failing to come to agreement on a restitution bill could be more costly for Poland, restitution advocates note. Jews could press private property claims in court, and the lack of clarity on land ownership in Poland hinders economic development. In Warsaw, for example, one-third of the city’s real estate was in Jewish hands before World War II, according to Eizenstat, who is still involved in restitution negotiations and works as a pro bono consultant to the Claims Conference.

Eizenstat said he hopes economic arguments will convince Polish officials to move ahead with restitution.

“A restitution law would also help Poland deal with the expensive issue of unclear land ownership that already harms its economic interests,“ he said.

Such appeals to the pocketbook are significant, since the West can no longer hold out admission or rejection into the European Union or NATO as an incentive, said Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee and a longtime restitution negotiator. Eastern European countries already have won admittance to these international bodies.

If you cannot prove economic self interest, then you need to convince governments to provide restitution by continuing to appeal to the leaders’ moral conscience, Baker suggested.

For his part, Evron continues to press his wife’s case with Poland. But he doesn’t have high hopes.

He bemoaned Poland’s tactic of forcing claimants to spend years and thousands of dollars pressing their cases in Polish courts, where they are frequently asked to produce evidence destroyed during World War II. Even when victory is achieved, like a positive decision recently granted for his wife’s residential building claim, cases are turned over to the Finance Ministry for review, Evron said.

“I asked my lawyer how long the review would take. He answered, could be a year, could be forever,” Evron said. “I have now spent more money on this case than the building is worth and my son asks why bother? My answer: It’s the principle that matters. You take something, you give it back.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.