EJC at Prague Restitution Conference: European governments must move on restitution issues

The European Jewish Congress has joined with other international Jewish organisations in calling on a number of European governments to resolve claims on stolen property still outstanding despite two decades since the fall of post-war communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.

Progress on these issues, now some 70 years after the end of WWII, has been particularly slow in Poland, Latvia and Romania.

EJC Secretary-General Serge Cwajgenbaum addressed the conference which took place in Prague last week.

“It is unacceptable that after so much time, some governments are deliberately foot-dragging on this issue and hiding behind so-called internal political problems to evade their responsibility to their Jewish communities, the heirs of this property,” Cwajgenbaum said.

Some six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust, with many being sent to death camps after their possessions were seized.

At the Prague restitution conference, delegates from 41 countries reviewed progress on a process that began in 2009 with the Terezin Declaration, named after the former Nazi concentration camp in the Czech town of the same name.

At that meeting, officials said the value of European Jewish assets seized during the Holocaust amounted to around $15 billion, but would be far greater today.

The groups plan to meet again next year in Brussels.

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