Hungarian Leader Assures Return of Religious Property

The prime minister of Hungary has assured Jewish leaders that religious property seized during World War II would be returned within a 10-year period.

The pledge was made earlier this month during Prime Minister Gyula Horn’s visit to the United States.

All communal property belonging to the Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist churches and the Jews will be returned, said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.

The property includes Jewish schools and synagogues, said Steinberg, who attended a meeting between Horn and WJC officials here.

Next month, the Hungarian government’s working committee on restitution is scheduled to meet with Jewish representatives in Budapest, Steinberg said.

“Jewish property will be considered on an equal basis with the others,” he said.

He added that by Sept. 30, a list of property to be returned would be finalized.

Compensation for religious property that cannot be returned would take place over a period of two decades.

Aspects of the Hungarian restitution issue remain murky, however.

No solution exists for the return of individual properly that has no heirs as a result of the Holocaust, the WJC official said.

In addition, the return of individual property that has claimants or heir would be handled by Hungary’s existing privatization laws and legislation that has not yet been introduced, he said.

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