Thursday, October 13, 2016

Poland: Many ‘stolen’ Warsaw properties belonged to Jews murdered in WWII

Via Radio Poland:
Many properties “stolen” recently in Warsaw once belonged to Jews murdered in World War II, writer and columnist Bronisław Wildstein says in an article for the website.

The article refers to Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who has faced calls for her to resign over a restitution controversy.

The controversy highlights the thorny problem of the restitution of property seized under the October 1945 Bierut Decree, named after former Polish communist leader Bolesław Bierut, which legalised the confiscation of plots of private land in the capital.

Wildstein wrote: “In recent years in Warsaw we can observe a procedure of taking possession of town house buildings of great value by organized groups from the elite of the [post-communist] Third Republic.

“This is happening under the protective umbrella and in cooperation with at least some officials in a City Hall led by the mayor of the capital, a professor of law and deputy head of the [Civic Platform] party which ruled Poland party for eight years, who supports the establishment and is one of its most important figures.

“There’s more. Taking part in the procedure was the mayor’s husband, who took over part of a building that was originally stolen from its Jewish owners [by people who blackmailed Jews who were in hiding, or blackmailed Poles who protected Jews, during the German Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II.] Their lawful heirs have so far recovered nothing.”

Wildstein added: “Many of the properties stolen recently in Warsaw are the former property of Jews who were murdered during the war.”

Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who has brushed off calls for her to resign, last month announced that City Hall was firing three staff over the restitution of a prime plot of land on Chmielna street in central Warsaw.

Gronkiewicz-Waltz said that the decision to transfer the plot was “hastily taken” and that the three officials involved did not consider “all of the circumstances of the case”.
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