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Lithuanian Reparations Provoke Debate

Lithuanian government passed a law compensating Jews for property confiscated during World War II, amounting to $52 million dollars.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 4/5/2012, 5:50 PM

Peres and Lithuanian PM
Peres and Lithuanian PM
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Lithuanian government passed a law on Wednesday that will compensate Jews for their property that was confiscated during World War II, amounting to $52 million dollars.

The funds will be distributed over the course of ten years and will be used to help support Jewish life in Lithuania as well as the needs of Holocaust survivors.

“These decisions are needed for all of us, needed for historic justice, and by doing this we have made a huge step forward to assuming our moral responsibility for history, sometimes difficult and tragic history,” said Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

The Lithuanian Parliament passed legislation in June 2011, but there were repeated delays halting the process.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Director of International Jewish Affairs, Rabbi Andrew Baker said that he “wholeheartedly commended” the deicion.

"This took far longer and was far more difficult than he had imagined, but Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius was true to his promise and we have him to thank for this successful conclusion," Baker stated.  

"We commend Lithuania for its current efforts to address a difficult period in their history," added Hannah Rosenthal, a special US envoy against anti-Semitism.

However, Efrain Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center disapproved of the deal, claiming that the government had ignored the issue for years and is now paying significantly less that the value of the confiscated Jewish property,

“This is a very bad deal but at least it’s something,” he said. “Unfortunately, the passage of the law was delayed for years during which most of the survivors passed away.”

“Those Jews living in Lithuania received something. Some claims of those living abroad have not been addressed,” he added.