Polish bill up for debate may limit restitution claims

Restitution organization warns that bill could place “new, insurmountable legal conditions” on claims for property recovery or compensation.

Dan Verbin ,

, PolandAerial view of the central square and Sukiennice in Krakow
, PolandAerial view of the central square and Sukiennice in Krakow
iStock

On Wednesday, the Polish parliament will begin debate on a bill that could jeopardize claims by Jews trying to recover property confiscated by the Nazis during the World War Two German occupation of Poland and not returned by the country’s post-war communist government.

The measure, if passed, would put additional strain on Poland’s relations with Israel. And could also hamper relations between the Eastern European country and the United States, reported Reuters.

With the fall of communism in 1989, Jews and their descendants who lost property during the Holocaust began campaigning for compensation from the Polish government.

Poland is the only EU country that has no legislation dealing with property restitution stemming from the Holocaust.

In 2015, a Polish constitutional tribunal stated that a deadline must be set for restitution claims. In March, a parliamentary committee tabled a bill to put the ruling into law. Deadlines would be between 10 and 30 years.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization said bill placed “new, insurmountable legal conditions” on property restitution claims that would make it impossible to recover properly or receive just compensation.

One of the bill’s authors, Barbara Bartus, told Reuters that the new bill would only apply to administrative decisions and not to civil lawsuits. She admitted, however, that the key to most compensation claims was challenging administrative decisions.

“It’s been over 30 years (that Poland is) a free country," she said. "I believe… if someone needed to sort out some very old issues in administrative proceedings… they had 30 years to do that."



top