Poland promises resolution on property compensation

After years of delay, the Polish government aims to complete the issue of Holocaust property restitution by the end of the year, Polish Ambassador to Israel Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska said this week.

The core of a bill, which was accepted by the Polish parliament in draft form two years ago, is ready, and the Polish government hopes to reach a resolution by the end of the year, she said in a briefing with Israeli journalists.

The draft bill passed its initial reading in the previous parliament, but it needs to be reintroduced due to the recent change of government. The bill would pay 20 percent compensation to former property-owners — both Jewish and non-Jewish — whose property was seized during World War II.

Polish officials estimate that the Jewish-owned private property makes up nearly 20 percent of all property taken.

The biggest claimants are from non-Jewish Polish nobility whose assets — including lavish palaces — were confiscated.

Moreover, many of the areas populated by Jews ahead of WWII — the so-called Galicia region — are now located outside the boundaries of present-day Poland and fall in Ukraine.

Magdziak-Miszewska said it was important for Poland to finalize the agreement for both historical and economic reasons, since claimants who have taken their cases directly to Polish courts have been receiving 100 percent compensation for their property.

“It is [both] moral justice and the real economic interest of Poland to end this issue,” she said.

The total value of seized property is estimated to be about $24 billion, according to Polish groups working to attain the compensation.

Magdziak-Miszewska’s remarks came ahead of next month’s visit to Israel by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The visit, which is the first such trip by a Polish premier in nearly nine years, comes as Israel plans its 60th anniversary and as burgeoning ties between Israel and Poland are now among the strongest in Europe. — jpost.com