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Polish Restitution Law Would Exclude Most Holocaust Survivors And Heirs

(JTA) — The Polish government has published draft legislation on the return of confiscated property that would exclude most Holocaust survivors and their families.

The bill, which was announced Friday, would require claimants to be citizens living in Poland and exclude all heirs except “first-line heirs,” meaning spouses, children or grandchildren. Most Jews who survived the Holocaust left Poland and neither they nor their children and grandchildren currently live in Poland. Other survivors or their offspring who may want to claim family property are not first-line heirs.

Some 90 percent of Polish Jewry was killed during the Holocaust.

The bill bars claims by foreign citizens if they were eligible for compensation under postwar bilateral treaties between their country and Poland, even if they did not file claims. Most survivors were not eligible to file claims under these treaties, but even those who were often did not know that such a possibility existed.

Also, the legislation eliminates the possibility of return of the actual property, or of substitute property, and limits compensation to 20 percent of the value of the property in cash or vouchers, or 25 percent in Polish government bonds.

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