WASHINGTON (JTA) — A U.S. court ruled that the Russian Federation must return sacred documents to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Last week’s ruling by the Washington, D.C., District Court, which was filed Wednesday, came after over 5 1/2 years of legal proceedings to recover documents seized by the Russian government during World War II.
The Russian government was ordered to hand over the documents to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow or to Chabad officials.
"This victory is a triumph for justice for the Jewish people and others who abhor the Nazi and Soviet exploitation of victims of genocide, and the unlawful and immoral suppression of religious faith by the current Russian government,” Seth Gerber, an attorney representing Chabad, said in a statement.
The religious books, manuscripts and other documents fell into Russian hands when the previous Lubavitcher rebbe, Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, fled Poland during World War II. The Russian government said last year that they do not particularly care about the documents, but that a lawsuit is not the right way to determine ownership and a U.S. court should not have jurisdiction over the case.