Edelstein concerned about Polish bill denying restitution to Holocaust survivors

The bill in question requires anyone seeking restitution for nationalized property to be Polish citizens and residents, spouses, children or grandchildren of the original owners.

October 29, 2017 19:56
2 minute read.
Yuli Edelstein

Yuli Edelstein. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Sunday expressed his concern about Polish legislation thought to be discriminatory against Holocaust survivors.

In a letter sent to his Polish counterparts, Marshal of the Senate Stanislaw Karczewski and Marshal of the lower house Sejm Marek Kuchcinski, he said the proposal would “effectively prevent [survivors] from applying for compensation for property taken from them during the dark years of Nazi rule.”

The bill in question requires anyone seeking restitution for nationalized property to be Polish citizens and residents, spouses, children or grandchildren of the original owners.

Some three million Polish Jews, about 90% of Poland’s prewar Jewish population, were murdered in the Holocaust.

“I appreciate the intent of this legislation, which seeks to provide fair compensation for property nationalized under Poland’s former Communist regime,” Edelstein, who was a political dissident in Soviet Russia, wrote. “At the same time, I am concerned about the implications of this law for Polish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and their descendants.”

“Preserving the memory of the Holocaust and addressing its ongoing implications fairy, justly and honestly is a matter of great importance to Israel and Jewish communities worldwide,” he wrote.

The Knesset speaker expressed confidence that the houses of Poland’s Parliament can pass a law that achieves its aims without denying justice to Holocaust survivors and their relatives.

Last week, Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari lodged an official complaint with the Polish Foreign Ministry over the bill.

“Israel believes the envisaged legislation discriminates against Holocaust survivors,” read a draft of Azari’s letter of protest, whose content an official in Jerusalem shared with JTA on Friday.

The letter constitutes a departure from the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s usual approach to restitution issues in recent decades, in which the ministry has played a facilitating role while refraining from directly commenting on legislation or unresolved restitution issues.

The letter objects to the exclusion of non-citizens and second-degree relatives from restitution under the new bill.

It notes that Nazi persecution meant no other groups “shared the fate of the Jews” in occupied Poland.

“First, the Nazis seized private property and then the communist authorities of Poland seized it, when most Polish Jews were already dead,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to speak to media about the issue.

Because the Holocaust “wiped out a whole generation” of Polish Jews, the official added, “it means the bulk of Jewish claimants are not direct descendants.

That’s the discriminatory element in the bill.”

JTA contributed to this report.

Related Content

June 17, 2019
French-Israeli Billionaire Drahi to acquire Sotheby's in $3.7 billion deal


Cookie Settings