Hungarian restitution moves to compensate Catholics, Jews

BUDAPEST, June 19 (JTA) — Two recent decisions by Hungarian lawmakers regarding World War II restitution include the country’s Jewish community in compensation issues. The Hungarian government recently agreed to give $55 million in property and cash to the Vatican. In addition to the return of Catholic religious assets, the bill, which will be signed into law June 20, expands religious-based schooling and social services. Jewish leaders cautiously welcomed the agreement. “The agreement seems advantageous for all other religions, including the Jews,” said the president of the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities, Peter Feldmayer. Feldmayer explained that at a meeting with Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Budapest agreed to extend the financial support of the state to Hungary’s main religious communities, including the Jews, for the next 10 years. The Jewish community is also asking that $5.5 million worth of religious property be returned. In a related development, the Hungarian Parliament modified a law to include Jews among the people who can apply for compensation for forced labor service during World War II. During the war, Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 48 were forced to serve as laborers in support of the German war effort.
Earlier legislation only gave compensation to those who fought in the Hungarian army or those who were victims of communism. The Hungarian Parliament set an Oct. 15 deadline for appplications.

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