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Romania Passes Holocaust Restitution Law, as 40,000 Claims Not Yet Processed

Legislation making it easier for Holocaust survivors to press restitution claims passed in Romania’s Parliament on Tuesday.

The law prioritizes the processing of claims belonging to Holocaust survivors, the World Jewish Restitution Organization, or WJRO, wrote in a statement applauding the legislation .

Claimants who filed before 2003 have been waiting more than a decade for a decision. More than 40,000 claims remain to be processed, WJRO said.

“This law acknowledges the urgent needs of Romanian Holocaust survivors, who have waited too long to have their property claims resolved,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO’s chair of operations.

Romania’s legislation follows laws passed earlier this year in Serbia and Latvia.

“There is momentum building as countries recognize the urgency of providing restitution during the lifetime of survivors,” Taylor said. “We encourage other countries to act now.”

Romania has given the local Jewish community the equivalent of $33 million in cash and stock, a sum that represents a fraction of the hundreds of millions in assets stolen from the Jewish community that the state has promised to return.

In recent years, restitution officials complained of foot-dragging on the part of Romanian authorities eager to mitigate the financial crisis that unfolded in 2011 in the housing market.

About 725,000 people identified as Jewish in prewar Romania. More than 300,000 Romanian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; only about 8,000 to 10,000 live in the country today.

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