During World War II, the Nazis and local collaborators annihilated over 90% of the 220,000 Jews in Lithuania. About 5,000 Jews currently live there.

Lithuania has implemented a claims program for the restitution of, or compensation for, confiscated private property, but the program excluded most Lithuanian Jews living abroad. Lithuania enacted legislation providing for compensation for certain confiscated, formerly Jewish owned, communal property.  Lithuania has no law for the restitution of heirless private property.

Private Property

Most Lithuanian Jews who fled the country during the Holocaust or its aftermath have not been able to gain restitution for their plundered property. The Law on the Procedure and Conditions of Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to Existing Real Property (1991) and Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (1997), as modified by several subsequent amendments, provided that former property owners and their heirs were eligible to recover seized property. However, unlike in Estonia and Latvia, the Lithuanian restitution laws applied only to citizens, thus precluding most foreigners of Lithuanian origin from recovering confiscated property.

Many of those deemed ineligible to recover seized property based on citizenship later became eligible to regain their citizenship through changes in the citizenship law. In particular, under the citizenship laws in effect until 2011, Israeli Jews from Lithuania were ineligible for citizenship because they “repatriated” to their ethnic homeland. The Constitutional Court ruled in 2006 – after the restitution claims deadline expired on December 31, 2001 – that it was unconstitutional for citizenship to be denied based on repatriation to an ethnic homeland, and the citizenship law that took effect in 2011 reflects this ruling. Despite the changes to the citizenship law, Lithuania has not reopened the application period for people who were excluded from filing claims based on citizenship.

Communal Property

To address the limitations of the Law on the Procedure for the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Religious Associations to Existing Real Property (1995) – which mostly included worship houses and related property – Lithuania’s parliament passed The Law on Good Will Compensation for the Real Estate of Jewish Religious Communities in June 2011.

Jewish Cemetery of Laizuva

Jewish Cemetery of Laizuva

Vilna Synagogue

Vilna Synagogue

The 2011 legislation authorized the payment of 128 million litas (approximately €36 million) over 10 years beginning in 2013. This amount was determined based on what the government claimed was 30% of the official values of 152 properties it determined to be eligible for restitution. The law also provided 3 million litas ($1.25 million) as one-time payments to individuals in 2012.

The Good Will Foundation, a joint foundation of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and WJRO, was designated by the government to receive and allocate the compensation.

Heirless Property

Lithuania has no law for the restitution of heirless Jewish property.

Resources and Links

  • Foundation for the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage and the Good Will Foundation
    For more information about the Foundation for the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage and the Good Will Foundation, click here. Compensation for Immovable Private Property in Lithuania Program is open to Holocaust survivors and their families who were previously excluded from restitution legislation in Lithuania.
    Deadline is December 31, 2023.

Relevant Press Releases & News

In a shift, Latvia and Lithuania are paying Holocaust survivors and heirs for their stolen property


December 19, 2023


WJRO welcomes Good Will Foundation’s symbolic compensation program for immovable private property expropriated in Lithuania
February 13, 2023


WJRO praises new Lithuanian law on Holocaust-era property restitution
December 22, 2022


WJRO Applauds Passage of Lithuanian Law on Holocaust Era Property Restitution
December 20, 2022


BNN ANALYSES: Lithuania will compensate expropriated Jewish private property, but Skvernelis bristles
Baltic News Network
December 22, 2022


Lithuanian PM proposes £32million in compensation to Holocaust victims
Jewish Press
November 21, 2022


WJRO Welcomes Lithuanian Prime Minister’s Proposal on Holocaust Era Property Restitution,
November 20, 2022


Lithuania proposes setting aside nearly $40M for Holocaust survivors and their heirs
December 2, 2022


New Calls for Jewish Restitution
Jewish Community of Lithuania
November 2017

WJRO Welcomes Report on Status of Post-Holocaust Restitution

April 23, 2017