To the Editor:
Re the letter from Alex Storozynski of the Kosciuszko Foundation: We know this is not only a Jewish issue and we work together with Szypowski’s owners’ organization OPOR in Poland. The Holocaust Restitution Committee, as well as the World Jewish Resitution Organizaton, are invited and speak at OPOR conferences that take place every two to three years in Warsaw.
The fact that the Polish government refuses to return properties to their Polish owners, too, makes this issue even more serious. Many of these Polish and Jewish owners are old and poor, and live on a small pension. Getting back their homes would significantly improve their situation, so they can spend the last few years of their lives in dignity.
At the same time, there are differences between the Jewish and non-Jewish claimants:
* Three million Jews, representing 90 percent of the Jewish population in Poland, were killed during the Holocaust. Now the few thousands survivors are trying to recover the homes that belonged to their murdered parents. These survivors are the legal heirs of the homes and not the Polish government, which keeps selling and renting them, ignoring the basic human right of private property.
* The majority of non-Jewish claimants live in Poland. They have easy access to legal records, lawyers, etc., and can attend court hearings. The majority of the Jewish claimants live abroad and therefore they difficulties with the legal process in courts. This process requires a few trips to Poland, which not all of the Jewish claimants can afford. Many spent a lot of money but lost their case in court because they picked the wrong lawyer.
President, Holocaust Restitution Committee
New York, N.Y.