Holocaust survivors to finally get property back?

President of EU Parliament and British Minister of Foreign Affairs back Holocaust restitution for survivors.

Netanel Katz ,

Martin Schulz
Martin Schulz

The efforts of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) to obtain justice for Holocaust survivors received significant support this week.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz and British Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Anelay each wrote separate letters expressing their commitment to the restoration of property taken from Jewish victims during World War II.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz announced an unprecedented policy of full support for the return of property stolen from the Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust. "As president of this institution, I am fully committed to raising awareness of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed against the Jewish people in Europe. Therefore, I fully support the implementation of the decisions of the European Parliament regarding the return of looted property to Jewish communities and the return of property of Holocaust victims."

Schulz's letter was sent to EU MEP Gunnar Hokmark, the Chairman of the European Alliance for Holocaust Survivors. Schulz also expressed his support for aiding the aging Holocaust survivors, increasing the level of Holocaust education, and preserving historical Jewish sites.

Gideon Taylor, the Chief of Operations of the WJRO, praised Schulz's letter. "This is a big step forward that will help us to work compassionately and justly for the welfare of elderly Holocaust survivors and to return property stolen during the Holocaust.

In the second letter, which was addressed to the WJRO and the Board of Deputies (BOD) umbrella organization of British Jews, Baroness Anelay declared the British government is determined to urge Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe to fulfill their responsibility to the ageing Holocaust survivors so they can live their lives with dignity.

“This Government attaches great significance to supporting the families tragically affected by the Holocaust – including on the important issue of property restitution.” Baroness Anelay wrote. "“We will continue to press for due recognition for victims in countries such as Poland and beyond."

There are an estimated 500,000 Holocaust survivors alive today, 190,000 of whom live in Israel. Many Holocaust survivors live in poverty. Many countries in Europe still have not passed laws regarding the restitution of property stolen or confiscated during World War II, and in other countries the process of obtaining restitution is slow and cumbersome. The main effort in addressing the issue of Holocaust restitution has shifted the the EU Parliament, in the hopes that it will encourage member states to enact Holocaust restitution legislation.