Slovak Jews press property claims


PRAGUE, Jan. 21 (JTA) — Slovak Jewish leaders are optimistic that a commission will soon be established to consider compensation claims for property seized from Slovak Holocaust victims.

Slovakia’s Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities has been pressing the government to set up a commission for the past year without success.

But following a meeting with Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda last week, Slovakia’s Jewish leaders said they believed the government was taking the matter seriously.

Dzurinda promised the Jewish leadership that “the government will talk about the issue at its next meeting and that a commission should be established in the near future,” said Jozef Weiss, director of the Central Union.

Weiss said the Central Union wanted the commission to include local and international Jewish representatives as well as government officials.

Participants at the meeting also discussed the issue of persuading Germany to pay compensation for the millions of dollars the wartime Slovak government allegedly stole from Jews and paid the Nazis to transport more than 58,000 Jews to death camps during the war.

Last year, the Central Union discussed the issue with officials from Germany when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited Slovakia.

The Central Union claims Germany reneged on a promise to hold further talks within two months.

In October, Slovakia’s Jewish leaders launched a lawsuit against Germany, claiming payment of as much as $3.9 million they say was paid to the Third Reich by the Nazi-puppet Slovak state.

A Berlin court is slated to hear the case at the end of March.

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