Poland should enact a compensation law to pay Jews for property stolen during the Holocaust, Ronald Lauder said.
Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made the statement Tuesday in an op-ed published in the Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
In a meeting Wednesday with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Lauder was expected to discuss restitution for Jews and non-Jews for property seized under the Nazi and communist occupations.
A 1997 Polish law requires restitution for Jewish communal property, including synagogues, but there is no provision to compensate individuals for their private property. Most of the individuals affected were non-Jewish Polish citizens, but about 17 percent of the estimated $23 billion in seized property is claimed by Jews.
“To deny the return of stolen property or adequate compensation violates basic democratic principles,” Lauder wrote. “Such denial to a Holocaust victim is a double humiliation. People who barely survived the war and later learnt that everything they owned had been seized by others, including the Polish state, cannot be expected to wait any longer.”
With 3.5 million people, Poland had Europe’s largest Jewish community before World War II.