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German Jews Demand Swift Return of Properties Taken by Communists

The German Jewish community is impatient over the failure to restore its many properties in the area of former East Germany, including what was East Berlin.

The community’s chairman, Heinz Galinski, used the occasion of a Rosh Hashanah reception Monday to complain that German organizations, including political parties, continue to occupy Jewish property without paying rent.

He demanded swift restitution.

Galinski told an audience of about 1,000 that the community filed claims for the restoration of its property rights immediately after the East German regime disintegrated a year ago.

Community sources said at least 800 units have been claimed, many located in the centers of large cities. More than 100 properties in East Berlin alone have been identified as once belonging to Jewish institutions.

They are now used for parking lots, day care centers, police headquarters and electricity-generating plants.

The German authorities, meanwhile, would like to avoid involvement in an embarrassing conflict within the Jewish community.

It concerns buildings in former East Berlin once owned by Adass Jisroel, an independent Orthodox congregation taken over by the Nazis before World War II.

A group led by the Offenberg family gained access to the property when the Communists still governed East Germany late in 1989. But the mainstream community, headed by Galinski, has produced documents attesting that it represents most Adass Jisroel survivors or their heirs.

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