CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, cross-party peers and the Government, reaffirmed support for Holocaust-era property restitution in Poland, in the House of Lords on Monday.
The peers expressed concern at the Polish government’s continued opposition to the restitution of properties seized during the Nazi Holocaust; Poland is currently the only major European nation without laws regulating the restitution of private property or possessions.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Polak asked: “What further practical help are Her Majesty’s Government giving to those who need to delve into Polish archives—a very difficult issue—in their pursuit of justice? It is not only Polish Jews who suffered; many non-Jewish Poles had their properties nationalised by the Polish Government. In helping my noble friend Lord Pickles in his important work, will my noble friend the Minister institute an annual reporting system to encourage the Poles to do what is just and right?”
Lord Pickles noted that the Polish government at the last moment withdrew a bill that “would have been a major obstacle to restitution”, and praised the British ambassador in Warsaw for meeting with the speaker of Poland’s parliament to express his concerns about the legislation.
Cross-party peer Baroness Deech stressed that “I have been asking the same question here for 11 years and getting the same response of no progress or promises… Poland is the only country in the EU that has not passed legislation to deal with one of the greatest thefts in history”.
This week, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) issued a statement condemning “all attempts to rehabilitate the reputations of persons who were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma”.
The statement added: “In light of rising antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, the IHRA is resolved to address the phenomenon of rehabilitation in member countries and across the organisation”.