WJC head calls Polish PM ‘Hitler victory’ statement, ‘reprehensible’

"Individual Poles and Polish institutions have profiteered from these assets for more than seven decades,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.

May 20, 2019 22:01
2 minute read.
POLAND’S PRIME Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

POLAND’S PRIME Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)


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World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder slammed the recent statement by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who claimed that if Poland would pay compensations to Jewish-victims “it would be Hitler’s posthumous victory.”

Lauder called the statement “reprehensible” in a Monday press release.

Noting that many Poles suffered greatly under Nazi occupation, Lauder went on to say that “successive Polish governments have steadfastly refused to recognize the material losses of Polish Jewry and have essentially treated their homes and other property as the spoils of war.”

He further added that “individual Poles and Polish institutions have profiteered from these assets for more than seven decades.”

The question of Jewish property in occupied Poland, and what happened to it during the years of the People’s Republic of Poland [PRL] is a complex one.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) issues a press release calling the statement by the Polish Prime Minister "insensitive" and stated that not only Jewish property was nationalized by the Polish State following the German occupation, so was property belonging to non-Jewish Poles.  

The WJRO called on the Polish state to "meet its commitment to non-Jewish and Jewish property owners who have waited many years for Poland to provide them with a measure of justice.”

Likud MK Keren Barak addressed the recent statement by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki by saying that not returning Jewish property “is not a victory to Hitler, but a victory to the greed of those who wrongly hold it," in her inaugural speech in the Knesset.

Morawiecki said recently that if Poland would pay compensations for the Holocaust, that will be akin to Hitler winning from beyond the grave.   Barak, a granddaughter of a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor, asked the Polish head of state “how dare you justify the nationalization of those assets of Jews who perished and those who were saved and escaped?”

While the modern Polish state created after the collapse of socialism returned Jewish community assets such as synagogues and cemeteries to existing Jewish communities in Poland, individual Jewish families seeking to reclaim houses or assets face many legal challenges.

For many Poles, the focus on Jewish suffering and loss of prosperity brings to mind the question of Polish assets lost in what is today Ukraine, Lithuania, and Belarus.

Poland recently expressed to Germany a desire to reexamine the issue of compensations that might be paid to Poland for the suffering it went through during the Second World War, Germany refused to discuss the issue.

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