Polish bill that blocks Holocaust property restitution referred to committee

JTA 20 April 2020
By Cnaan Lipshshiz

Poland’s parliament sent draft legislation aimed at blocking restitution of property lost or stolen during the Holocaust to a committee, even as the country’s ruling party voiced opposition to it.

The draft resolution, which was voted on Thursday at the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, was referred for “further work” by the Justice and Human Rights Commission.

Out of the Sejm’s 460 members, 259 voted against scrapping the draft outright, Salon24 reported. But in a subsequent vote, 420 lawmakers objected to it moving to a second reading. This led Sejm Speaker Elżbieta Witek to refer the draft to committee.

The draft states: “It is forbidden to take any actions aimed at satisfying claims regarding heirless property, including negotiations, entering into settlements, recognizing claims and actions relating to heirless property, consenting to mediation, directing parties to mediation or payment of cash benefits.”

It also states that Nazi Germany, not Poland, is responsible for what happened in Poland when it was occupied by Germany.

The ruling right-wing Law and Justice party said on Wednesday that it does not support the draft because it is “unnecessary,” but it was introduced to parliament because it garnered 200,000 signatures — well above the 100,000 needed to do so.

Poland is according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization the only major European nation without laws regulating the restitution of heirless private property — or possessions that belonged to individuals but ended up in the hands of the Polish state or other parties after the Holocaust.
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