Jewish groups oppose change to Polish restitution law

PRAGUE (JTA) – Polish Jewish groups are opposing their government’s decision to change Polish law for the restitution of confiscated Jewish property.

The Polish government is undertaking a fundamental shift in the way property confiscated under Nazi and communist occupation will be returned to its former Jewish owners.

Under the proposed changes, the Polish government will put the restitution process under the court system and out of the hands of public committees. The legislation is expected to go ahead in March, though the Polish media reported that the government is continuing to search for a compromise with Jewish and some non-Catholic Church groups opposing the changes to prevent forcing unpopular legislation through the parliament.

Piotr Kadlcik, the president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, has publicly rejected any compromises, adding that the government insisted it does not plan to close up the country’s regulatory commission of Jewish property.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the legislative changes would require claimants to produce proof of official land records, many of which were lost during World War II. The report further attributed the changes to tensions between Poland and Jewish Diaspora organizations.

Over the past 15 years, Poland has restituted about 2,000 confiscated pieces of property. 

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