(JTA) – The Lithuanian government has created a fund to compensate Jews for property confiscated during the Nazi and Soviet nationalist eras.
A fund of more than $50 million was approved by the Lithuanian government on Wednesday. The funds will be distributed over the next 10 years to help support Jewish life and heritage in Lithuania.
An additional $1 million was allocated to assist needy Lithuanian Holocaust survivors.
"This took far longer and was far more difficult than he had imagined, but Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius was true to his promise and we have him to thank for this successful conclusion," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs who was integral in the negotiations with the Lithuanian government.
After several failed efforts to reach a restitution agreement with previous Lithuanian governments, Kubilius said in 2009 that he would propose to pay partial compensation over a 10-year period. The Lithuanian Parliament passed legislation last June to pay the compensation, but there were repeated delays in completing the process.
The Foundation for Jewish Heritage, established jointly by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, will assume responsibility for administering the funds.