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Slovakia offers Holocaust compensation

PRAGUE, Jan. 20 (JTA) — Jews around the world have been invited to apply for property losses sustained in Slovakia during the Nazi era. Last Friday, Slovakia’s Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities said Holocaust survivors or their relatives can submit preliminary applications for compensation. The move follows an agreement reached by the Slovak government and Jewish representatives late last year in which the state agreed to provide more than $20 million to Slovak Jewry to mitigate wartime property losses. One-third of that figure has been earmarked for uncompensated Holocaust victims, with the rest going toward restoration of dilapidated cemeteries and synagogues, as well as for cultural and social programs. The compensation plan, which the executive chairman of the Central Union, Fero Alexander, stressed is “only symbolic,” is being handled by a newly established Council for the Compensation of Holocaust Victims, made up of four members of the Slovak Jewish community and three government representatives. Those entitled to apply include people who “as a result of racial persecution” lost title to real estate in those regions that now make up Slovakia between Nov. 2, 1938, and May 8, 1945, and who have not received compensation for the loss from another source. The term “racial persecution” applies to those individuals, for example, who were imprisoned in a concentration camp or ghetto or were forced to remain in hiding to escape imprisonment. In a joint statement with the Central Union in October, the Slovak government expressed “deep regret for the tragic events that took place in the territory of the Slovak Republic” during World War II. Slovak and Jewish officials recognize that the compensation package cannot fully recompense those who had lost real estate in the war. The deadline for submitting preliminary applications for compensation is June 30, 2003. Application forms and further information can be obtained at the following address: Kancelaria Rady, P. O. Box 115, 820 05, Bratislava 25, Slovak Republic. Information is also expected to be available beginning Jan. 27 on the Web site www.holocaustslovakia.sk.

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