Private Property Restitution in Warsaw: Information for Holocaust Survivors and Their Heirs
The difficulties faced by property owners in Warsaw illustrate the need for Poland to pass comprehensive national legislation. The post-war Communist decree nationalizing property in Warsaw allowed for property owners to file claims. The Communist government rejected or did not review most claims, and thousands of cases remain open today.
Almost 70 years later, many Holocaust survivors and other rightful owners do not remember that they filed claims after the war or know that they can now pursue their claims, and many of their heirs may not even know that their relative filed claims. In September 2016, a Polish law took effect that will terminate many of these open claims unless property owners or their heirs come forward to reactivate their claim. The law sets deadlines that make it difficult, if not impossible, for most claimants identified by the City to pursue their claims.
- At the same time, the September 2016 legislation did not create an opportunity to file claims – either for Jewish and non-Jewish rightful owners of property in Warsaw who missed the Communist-era claims deadline, or for owners of property outside of Warsaw where there was no claims process.
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? Click here to learn more about the Warsaw Decree.
- 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 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. The City of Warsaw has published on each of the dates listed below, the following number of property announcements:
|Date of Property Announcement||Number of Property Announcements|
|February 22, 2017||48|
|March 29, 2017||15|
|April 26, 2017||21|
|June 5, 2017||20|
|July 19, 2017||3|
|July 27, 2017||3|
|September 19, 2017||22|
|November 23, 2017||11|
|December 22, 2017||2|
|January 31, 2018||10|
|March 12, 2018||33|
|April 25, 2018||6|
|May 25, 2018||4|
|June 20, 2018||8|
|July 20, 2018||3|
|August 20, 2018||2|
|September 20, 2018||2|
|November 30, 2018||2|
|December 14, 2018||1|
|January 18, 2019||3|
|March 15, 2019||12|
|April 12, 2019||4|
|May 8, 2019||3|
|June 10, 2019||4|
|July 10, 2019||1|
|August 12, 2019||2|
|October 23, 2019||2|
|December 11, 2019||4|
|January 22, 2020||3|
|August 22, 2020||9|
|January 8, 2021||8|
|January 22, 2021||35|
|February 5, 2021||17|
|March 5, 2021||12|
The City’s most recent announcements, in Polish and English, for each property may be found on the City’s website here, and a compilation of all 332 announcements in English may be found here. In addition, thirty-two tables (one for each of the announcements included in the table above) compiling information listed in the announcements may be found here – please note that this document was not compiled by WJRO, and WJRO has not checked its accuracy.
- 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.
WJRO extends its appreciation to Prof. Michael Bazyler and Kaylee Sauvey for their pro bono assistance in compiling the announcements.
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.