Property Restitution in Warsaw: Information for Holocaust Survivors and Their Heirs
New Six-Month Deadline Set by Poland
On September 17, 2016, a Polish law took effect that will terminate many open private property claims in the City of Warsaw filed after 1945 (called here “The Warsaw Law”) – unless property owners or their heirs come forward to reactivate their claim.
In response, WJRO has launched this new webpage as a service to Holocaust survivors and their heirs who may have owned property in Warsaw and therefore may be qualified to pursue their claim filed after 1945 under the Warsaw Decree. Click here to learn more about the Warsaw Decree.
This webpage features a unique searchable database assembled by WJRO to help you identify whether you or your relative may have filed a claim under the Warsaw Decree.
Today, thousands of cases remain open. Many Holocaust survivors do not remember that they filed claims after the Holocaust. Many of their heirs may not even know that their relative filed claims.
Please note: The new Warsaw Law does not create a process to file new claims. A claim must have already been filed with the City of Warsaw under the Warsaw Decree.
Purpose of this Webpage
This webpage is designed to help Holocaust survivors and their heirs answer several basic questions:
- Might you or your relative have previously filed a claim under the Warsaw Decree of 1945?
- If so, how can you preserve your property claim and pursue restitution?
- What resources are available to help you?
Search for Your Claim – WJRO’S Warsaw Database
The new WJRO database is designed to help you identify if you or another owner to the same property may have filed a claim under the Warsaw Decree.
The City of Warsaw published a list of 2,613 street addresses for open claims in Appendix 2 of its June 2016 “White Book.” They did not, however, publish the names of the claimants or owners of the properties — only the street addresses.
WJRO’s database matches the 2,613 street addresses from the City’s list with property owners’ names found in the 1939/1940 Homeowners Directory for Warsaw or, where that was not possible, with the 1930 Homeowners Directory as well as through use of mortgage information. Click here to view the WJRO database.
- This database is intended for information purposes only, as a service to Holocaust survivors and their heirs. The information in the database is not intended as legal advice, and WJRO cannot make any assurances regarding its accuracy.
- Having your property or name appear in the database DOES NOT guarantee that there is a valid claim.
- Please note that the WJRO database is based on the list of properties published by the City of Warsaw. Some of the properties on the list may have been subject to a decision by Polish authorities. An informal translation of the title of Appendix 2 of the June 2016 White Book is “List of pending Warsaw Decree proceedings, including those in which the Minister of Finance has issued an indemnification decision.”
- We were not able to identify names in the 1939/1940 or 1930 Homeowners Directories or through use of available mortgage information to match every address.
- The name that appeared in the 1939/1940 or 1930 Homeowners Directories or appeared in mortgage information is not necessarily the person who filed the claim in 1945 or a relative of that person.
- WJRO does not know if there are other open claims beyond those on the list.
What To Do If You or Your Relative Filed a Claim for Property in Warsaw
Under the new Warsaw Law, the City of Warsaw will publish an announcement on its website, and in a national and local Polish newspaper, for a specific property. On February 22, 2017, the City of Warsaw published an initial announcement for 48 properties. The City’s announcements, in Polish and English, for each property may be found here, and a compilation of all 48 announcements in English may be found here.
- You have six months to come forward from the time the City of Warsaw publishes an announcement about your property.
- You will have three months after that to provide proof that you have a right to the property. This may involve taking legal action in Warsaw, such as successorship proceedings to prove that you are the heir.
- If the property owner does not meet these deadlines, the case will be discontinued and the property will be transferred to the State Treasury or the City of Warsaw.
It is not known at this time when the City of Warsaw will publish an announcement about any given property. Such an announcement triggers the six-month deadline for that particular property.
But even if the city does not publish an announcement of your property, you can still pursue that claim.
Help and Additional Resources
- Technical Assistance
- The Holocaust Restitution Committee, which advocates for private property restitution in Poland, provides some advice about finding a lawyer regarding claims. Click here to read the letter from the Holocaust Restitution Committee.
- WJRO is not able to recommend lawyers.
- An informal English translation of the new Warsaw Law can be found here.
- What if you do not find a match for your property on the WJRO database?
- You may want to do further research if you do not find a match on the WJRO database. Instructions for further research may be found here.
- Property owners or their heirs who did not previously file a claim may wish to consult with a lawyer about whether there are other ways under existing law to seek restitution or compensation for their property in Warsaw.
WJRO will update this webpage as it obtains more information from the City of Warsaw.
WJRO continues to urge the Polish government to pass legislation to enable people to file claims for property in Warsaw and across Poland. Find out more about WJRO’s efforts in Poland and sign up for updates.
WJRO is grateful to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference) for generous support in developing the database and disseminating information about this program.
WJRO acknowledges with deep gratitude the assistance of Logan Kleinwaks in this project. Mr. Kleinwaks (GenealogyIndexer.org), a genealogist specializing in the digitization and utilization of Polish directories, matched the street addresses provided in Appendix 2 of the White Book with the 1939/1940 Homeowners Directory or, where that was not possible, with the 1930 Homeowners Directory, as well as through use of mortgage information.