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WJC President Lauder ‘profoundly disappointed’ by Poland’s proposed restitution law

NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress on Friday expressed “profound disappointment” in the Polish government’s proposed legislation for the restitution of confiscated property belong to Holocaust victims and their heirs. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said that while he “strongly welcomed” the principle and importance of such legislation, the actual text proposed by the Polish Ministry of Justice was insufficient and “excluded the vast majority” of survivors and their families.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Polish government’s proposal excludes the vast majority of Polish Holocaust survivors and their families,” Lauder said in a statement released in his dual capacity as Chairman of the Council of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, together with WJRO Chair of Operations Gideon Taylor.

“The Polish Holocaust survivors and their families were an integral part of Polish life for centuries. Their property is often their last tangible connection with the life they lived before the destruction of the Holocaust.

“We strongly urge the Polish government to ensure that the legislation, when introduced to the Parliament, will have eligibility criteria and a claims process that are fair and just to those who suffered and lost so much.” 

The Ministry of Justice’s proposal contains a number of clauses that would impede full and fair restitution, including the stipulation that any claimants must first secure Polish citizenship, the restriction of claims within a one-year period, and a limit on the circle of heirs eligible to lodge claims to direct linear descendants of the owner.

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