UK politicians push Poland to compensate Holocaust victims
PR dla Zagranicy
Fifty members of the UK's upper and lower houses of parliament have signed a letter to the Polish Prime Minister, urging Poland to compensate Jewish families who lost property under the German Nazi and Communist regimes.
“Poland has a responsibility to elderly Holocaust survivors, their heirs and other victims to return their property which was seized by the Nazis or subsequently nationalized by the Communist regimes,” the letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk states.
The signatories, who include former European Commissioner for trade and Labour minister Lord Mandelson, argue in the letter that “unfortunately, Poland stands out in its failure to fulfil - even to recognise – its responsibility to victims.
“Poland is the only member state of the European Union and the only major country in the former Soviet bloc without a law to restore property taken by the Nazis or nationalized by Communist governments from Jews and non-Jews alike.
The letter argues that “Poland continues unjustly to benefit from the victims' private property.”
Successive Polish governments have pledged to introduce a law on compensation since the fall of the Iron Curtain, and reforms are also being campaigned for by the Polish Landowners' Association, with Poland's nobility losing most of its property during the Communist era.
In April 2011, President Komorowski said that “the lack of a bill on restitution is a disgrace for Poland.
“If such a law is passed, I will not hesitate to sign it,” he added.
His comments followed Prime Minister Donald Tusk's announcement that the reforms had to be stalled owing to the “global financial crisis.”
At present, claims concerning restitution or compensation must be made in individual court cases. Although thousands of properties have been restituted, many cases have stalled in the law courts.
About 90 percent of Poland's pre-war Jewish population of over 3 million died in the Holocaust. At the close of the war, the incoming Communist regime nationalised all landed estates of over 50 hectares. (nh)