Restitution in Poland: Profiles

WJRO Poland OperationsTimeline: Private Property Restitution in PolandMeeting the Principles of the Terezin Declaration / Polish Benefits for Holocaust Victims of Polish Origin

Maurice Tabaksman

Maurice Tabaksman fought for many years for the return of properties – two apartment blocks and a parcel of land – owned by his family in Warsaw before the Second World War.

Gostynsja 5 (now Zytnia 83)

Gostynsja 5 (now Zytnia 83)

Through the help of a lawyer in Warsaw he managed to locate his family properties registered in the family name and in 1967 he made his first trip back to Warsaw to try and claim his properties. He declined the offer of one apartment in one of the blocks his family owned on the condition that he took up permanent residence.

He tried repeatedly to reclaim his family’s assets. He lobbied the EU in Brussels to try and block Polish entry to the Union and continually spoke to the foreign office and his local MP, David Burrowes.

In 2007 his case was featured in Baddiel and the Missing Nazi Millions, a documentary fronted by David Baddiel who visited Warsaw and was filmed outside one of the apartment blocks “owned” by the Tabaksman family.

As a teenager he was sent to study in British Mandate Palestine and later, having acquired a British passport, at the University of Toulouse. Whilst at University in 1939 he attempted to get a visa to travel back to Poland but unable to do so he went to London – a decision which undoubtedly saved his life.Born into a religious family in 1918 in Warsaw, he, his parents and sister enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in the capital with weekends spent at their country dacha in the forest.

Gostynsja 6

Gostynsja 6

His parents and sister perished in the Holocaust; it is believed they were first interned in the Warsaw ghetto and later deported, presumably to Auschwitz or Treblinka. Despite many years trying, Maurice was unable to establish their place of death, but he did donate to Yad Vashem the letters from his father including the final one dated 1942 in Warsaw received via the Red Cross.

Maurice was naturalised British in the 1950s and married Rella Geiger in 1947, a union that lasted 65 years producing three daughters, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren; he passed away in January 2013.