Statement by WJC Secretary General Michael Schneider on Polish restitution

31 March 2011

Based on a recent article by Menachem Rosensaft Polish media have been suggesting that the World Jewish Congress is advocating a economic boycott of Poland.  Although Mr. Rosensaft is the general counsel of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), his statements on the issue were entirely made in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the WJC. A no point has the WJC proposed a boycott of Poland, nor have we considered or discussed any such measures.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has made our position on the decision taken by the Polish government to suspend the restitution process very clear. In a press statement released on 13 March 2011, he declared the following:

“Regrettably, the Polish government has said that for financial reasons they cannot move forward on legislation to compensate for confiscated property. For us, this is an issue of justice and not money. We are greatly disturbed by this turn of events as Polish officials have been publicly stating for many years - indeed too many years - that the property restitution and compensation issue would be addressed and legislation introduced in Parliament. By its announcement this week, Poland is telling many elderly pre-war landowners, including Holocaust survivors, that they have no foreseeable hope of even a small measure of justice for the assets that were seized from them.

"This issue has been under discussion in Poland for almost two decades, through many economic periods, including the present one when Poland is experiencing some of the strongest economic growth in the European Union. It is unacceptable that Poland cannot find some way to meet its responsibility to former landowners. Most central and eastern European countries have adopted some type of law to provide for the restitution of or compensation for confiscated property. Poland stands out for its failure to do so.”

It remains the policy of the World Jewish Congress to obtain restitution of seized and nationalized private property, or the payment of adequate compensation, to dispossessed Holocaust victims and their heirs, both in Poland and elsewhere.

We will continue to work together with the elected representatives of the Republic of Poland and pursue diplomatic initiatives to this extent, but we do not advocate a boycott, as is being suggested.

New York, 31 March 2011

Michael Schneider
Secretary General
World Jewish Congress


 

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