Of the approximately 3,300,000 Jews who lived in Poland prior to the Second World War, about 90% were killed in the Holocaust.

More than 75 years after the Holocaust and over a quarter-century after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Polish survivors and their families – as well as non-Jewish property owners from Poland – continue to wait for Poland to return or provide compensation for property plundered by the Germans and their collaborators during the Holocaust and then subsequently nationalized by the Communist regime.

While numerous other Central and Eastern European nations have adopted a special approach or enacted specific legislation to provide restitution of, or compensation for, confiscated assets, the Polish government has not addressed the concerns of dispossessed Holocaust survivors and their heirs, as well as non-Jewish Poles whose property was taken.

Private Property

Members of the Rosenbaum family pose outside a house in prewar Bialystok, Poland

Since becoming a democracy in 1989, a number of bills have been proposed in Poland to address the restitution of, or compensation for, private property seized by the Nazis and/or later nationalized by the Communist regime – none became law.  For instance, in October 2017, the Ministry of Justice announced proposed legislation to provide limited compensation for private property nationalized by the Communist government, however this was never adopted into law. Poland stands alone as the only member state of the European Union without such a law.

In September 2021 a Polish law amending the Administrative Procedure Code took effect, which prevents claimants from challenging administrative decisions older than 30 years, including decisions issued without legal basis or issued in gross violation of the law. In practice, it will become virtually impossible for all former Polish property owners – including Holocaust survivors and their descendants, many of whom have had claims pending for years – to secure redress under the current Polish law for property illegally stolen during the Communist era and which remains in Poland to this day. These recent developments illustrate the need for Poland to once and for all settle the issue of private property by adopting comprehensive national restitution legislation.

Communal Property

Krakow Synagogue

Krakow Synagogue

The Law on the Relationship Between the State and Jewish Communities (1997) governs the restitution of Jewish communal properties.  The properties covered – including cemeteries, synagogues and buildings serving religious, educational, cultural and social purposes – belonged to Jewish religious groups and were seized beginning September 1, 1939, by German occupying forces.  Poland also passed legislation establishing five regulatory commissions to address the restitution claims of various religious communities.  The Polish Government Commission on the Restitution of Jewish Property consists of an equal number of members from the Polish State Treasury and the Union of Jewish Communities and is responsible for processing the communal property restitution claims for the Jewish communities.

In 2000, the Union of Jewish Communities and WJRO established the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage.  The Foundation is responsible for the restitution process and Jewish heritage preservation of communal property outside the jurisdictions of the nine designated Jewish communities.

Twenty years after the claim filing deadline, a majority of claims has still not been resolved and most of the resolved claims have not led to restitution or compensation.  The Government’s regulatory commission has completed review of just over half of 5,504 claims filed for Jewish communal property.  Further, the regulatory commission has applied a narrow interpretation of the law to exclude many Jewish properties. Of the claims that have been adjudicated (in full or in part), fewer than half were positive decisions or settled by agreement, which led to the return of the contested property or related compensation.

Once properties are returned, Polish law imposes significant burdens on the Jewish communities.  The cemeteries and synagogues restituted to the Jewish communities almost always require extensive and expensive work, because they were not maintained over the years, were permitted to deteriorate, and often were desecrated while in the possession of the government or other parties.  Nonetheless, the government, after returning such dilapidated, untended properties, requires the Foundation or communities immediately to repair the property and bear the onerous costs of improvement and upkeep.

Heirless Property

Poland has no law for the restitution of confiscated, heirless property.

The Terezin Declaration notes that “heirless property could serve as a basis for addressing the material necessities of needy Holocaust (Shoah) survivors.” In light of the destruction of the Polish Jewish community during the Second World War, many families were entirely destroyed, leaving no heirs. The property formerly owned by such Jewish families should be used, in part, to meet the growing and urgent needs of the living victims of the Holocaust.

Polish Benefits for Holocaust Victims of Polish Origin

Materials / How to Apply / Help / WJRO Poland Operations

WJRO wishes to inform Holocaust victims who were Polish citizens at the time of the Holocaust that they may be eligible for monthly payments of about PLN 400 (approximately $130) from the Polish government.

The Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression is the Polish government body that administers the payments.  The office’s website has information about the payment program. In particular, the office has posted information for applicants from abroad, including an application.

The WJRO will update this website as it obtains more information from the Polish government about how individuals can apply for these payments.


The Legislation on War Veterans and Victims of War and Post-War Oppression provides for monthly payments for individuals who:

  • were detained by the Nazis in ghettos, prisons, concentration camps, extermination camps, or similar places of detention;
  • were forcibly deported to the Soviet Union;
  • served in the Polish military, the Polish units of the Allied militaries, or in the Polish underground during the Second World War; or
  • otherwise are considered a veteran or a victim of oppression.

On March 14, 2014, Poland passed legislation removing an obstacle that had previously made it difficult for eligible survivors currently living outside of Poland to qualify for the monthly payments. The President of Poland signed the legislation on April 4, 2014, and the legislation was published and passed into law on May 18, 2014.

Previously, recipients were required to have a Polish bank account, which made it difficult for claimants living abroad to receive payments.  Under the new law, the monthly payments can be deposited into bank accounts outside of Poland.

The changes took effect on October 18, 2014, for people living in European Union member states, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States of America.

The changes became effective on April 18, 2015, for people living in all other countries, including Israel.

WJRO is working with the worldwide network of social service agencies and others to help provide information to Holocaust victims of Polish origin who may be eligible.

Application Materials and Resources

To review application materials and resources, click here.

How to Apply

For information on how to apply, click here.


For help with your application, click here.

Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ)

Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland was established by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the WJRO. Our mission is to protect and commemorate the surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland.

Our goals are reclaiming the properties which before WWII were the property of Jewish Religious Communities and other Jewish legal entities (based on the Law on the Relationship between the State and the Union of Jewish Religious Communities of 1997), and providing legal services for the regulatory procedure; managing returned properties; and protecting properties bearing special religious or historical significance.

Phone: +48 22 436 60 00

Fax: +48 22 436 06 58

E-mail: fodz@fodz.pl 

Website: http://fodz.pl

Relevant Press Releases

US Senate Urges Polish President Duda to Withdraw Bill that Would Affect Communist Era Property Restitution Claims

July 19, 2021

WJRO Strongly Objects to Proposed Polish Law that Would Extinguish Possibility to Resolve Holocaust Era Property Restitution Claims

June 22, 2021

US Secretary of State Blinken to WJRO & Claims Conference: “I Assure You that I Will Keep High on My Agenda Resolution of Remaining Holocaust-Era Property Restitution Issues, As Well As Support for Survivors and Jewish Communities Devastated by the Holocaust”

March 15, 2021

WJRO and the Claims Conference Respond to Verdict In Defamation Trial of Internationally Known Scholars in Poland

February 9, 2021

Historic International Virtual Conference Brings Together Jews, Christians, Poles, and Polish Jewish Diaspora to Discuss Protecting and Preserving 1,200 Jewish Cemeteries In Poland

August 19, 2020

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) Welcomes Groundbreaking Us Government Report on Property Restitution

July 29, 2020

British Government Strongly Reaffirms Support for Holocaust-Era Property Restitution in Poland

July 28, 2020

US Senate Urges Secretary of State Pompeo to “Act Boldly and With Urgency” to Encourage Poland to Restitute Property to Holocaust Victims

August 5, 2019

Seeking Fairness for Property Claimants/Rzeczpospolita Op-ed (English Translation)

May 31, 2019

Polish Prime Minister’s Statement is Deeply Insensitive to Holocaust Survivors — and Incorrect

May 20, 2019

Former Polish Diplomat Appointed as Director of Polish Jewish Heritage Organization

April 10, 2019

WJRO: Poland’s Prime Minister Morawiecki is wrong. The issue of restitution has not been resolved

February 18, 2019

US Secretary of State Pompeo Calls for Holocaust-Era Property Issue with Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs

February 13, 2019

World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) Condemns Vandalization of Cemetery in Poland

November 21, 2018

US Senate urges Polish Prime Minister to pass fair restitution legislation

March 26, 2018

WJRO Concerned About Polish Government Decision to Return Property Law to Ministry of Justice; Urges Speedy Passage of Just and Fair Legislation

February 14, 2018

Statement of Gideon Taylor, chair of operations of the World Jewish Restitution Organization and co-chair of The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) regarding Jewish cemetery in Warsaw

January 25, 2018

World Jewish Restitution Organization “Profoundly Disappointed” at Proposed Polish Property Legislation that would Exclude Vast Majority of Holocaust Survivors and Their Families

October 23, 2017

World Jewish Restitution Organization Welcomes Poland’s Announcement of Need for National Legislation for Confiscated Property; Urges that it be Fair and Just

October 11, 2017

MEPs from across Europe pledge renewed support for Holocaust survivors over restitution

July 7, 2017

Resolution needed on post-Holocaust restitution in Europe, urges European Parliament President

April 26, 2017

International Conference, Members of the European Parliament call for urgency on resolving remaining restitution issues

April 25, 2017

WJRO Welcomes Report on Status of Post-Holocaust Restitution

April 23, 2017

City of Warsaw Releases Initial List of Properties Under Controversial Restitution Law

February 27, 2017

WJRO Helps Holocaust Survivors Reclaim Lost Warsaw Property

December 6, 2016

WJRO Disappointed with Decision by Polish Constitutional Tribunal on Law Limiting Warsaw Restitution Claims

July 27, 2016

WJRO Announces ‘Call to Action’ Social Media Campaign on Holocaust-era Property Restitution Urging Intergenerational Campaign for Justice for Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 5

May 2, 2016

City of Warsaw Releases Initial List of Properties Under Controversial Restitution Law

February 27, 2017

Relevant News


Poland, Israel in diplomatic spat over Poland’s property law

Associated Press

June 28, 2021

US ramps up pressure on Poland over Holocaust restitution

Associated Press

July 28, 2021

Anger as Poland plans law that will stop Jews reclaiming wartime homes

The Guardian

August 1, 2021

Poland’s president signs bill to limit WW2 property restitution claims


August 14, 2021

Poland’s Troubling Legislation, and the United States’ Unwavering Commitment to Holocaust Era Justice

The Algemeiner

August 24, 2021


Holocaust Survivors Share Stories of Stolen Property in New Campaign

The Jerusalem Post

September 7 , 2020

Nazi-Era Restitution: One Woman’s #MyPropertyStory

Jewish Journal

September 11, 2020

Queens Holocaust Survivor Continues Fighting for Family Property in Poland

The Tablet

September 21, 2020


Locals Team Up to Preserve Jewish Cemetery in Poland

Jewish Exponent

August 27, 2020


US Hits Poland, Others in Europe Over Holocaust Claims

The New York Times

July 29, 2020

State Department: ‘Much work remains’ to provide restitution to Holocaust survivors and their descendants


July 30, 2020

Is Poland Listening?

The Times of Israel

August 5, 2020

State Department assesses progress in Holocaust property restitution

The Jerusalem Post

August 2, 2020

State Department report highlights unfulfilled commitment to Holocaust survivors

The Hill

August 29, 2020


Government Supports Holocaust-Era Property Restitution in Poland

Jewish Weekly

July 29, 2020

British Government strongly affirms support for Holocaust-era property restitution in Poland


August 3, 2020


Poland Urged to Look for Nazi-Looted Art Still Held in Its Museums

The New York Times

January 12, 2020


Holocaust: Restitution battles

The Jerusalem Post

November 20, 2019

Poland’s far-right leaders seek to criminalize World War II restitution

Los Angeles Times

December 2, 2019

Poland’s toxic property restitution debate fueling antisemitism – analysis

The Jerusalem Post

December 12, 2019


U.S. Senate Calls For Polish Holocaust Restitution

The New York Jewish Week 

August 6, 2019

Senators press Poland to repay victims for property stolen by Nazis

The Hill

August 5, 2019

Gideon Taylor: Led by Tammy Baldwin and Marco Rubio, U.S. Senate calls for justice for Holocaust survivors

Wisconson Cap Times

August 19, 2019


Six Myths About Restitution of Jewish Property


May 31, 2019

Polish Property Restitution

i24 News

May 13, 2019

Disappointed in the tone and language of Poland

Arutz Sheva:7

May 14, 2019


New Push for Polish Property Restitution

The Jewish Week/Times of Israel 

April 24, 2019

The Fight to Regain Stolen Homes and Property Lost to Nazis in WWII


April 29, 2019

Polish Property Restitution

i24 News

May 2, 2019

Holocaust Survivors Tell Stories of Stolen Property on Social Media

Jerusalem Post

May 2, 2019


Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operation, WJRO spoke with i24 host, Derricke Dennis, following US Secretary of State Pompeo’s public call for Poland to pass legislation for property restitution for property owners, including Holocaust survivors and their families

i24 News

February 20, 2019

If Not Now, When?

Jerusalem Post

February 17, 2019

In Warsaw, Pompeo urges Poland to pass Holocaust restitution law

Times of Israel

February 14 2019

Another Fight Over Holocaust Memory Threatens Warming Ties Between Israel and Poland


February 18, 2019


Lily Widner, 97, survived the Holocaust and much more. Why does Poland say she’s dead


January 25, 2019

Jewish Cemeteries Desecrated in Poland


November 21, 2018

For Poland, a Time for Justice, Senator Tammie Baldwin (D-WIS)

The Hill

September 18, 2018

In Poland, ‘A Narrow Window to Do Justice’ for Those Robbed by Nazis

The New York Times

June 10, 2018 


Trump Signs Holocaust Property Law That Has Angered Poland

The New York Times

May 10. 2018

Shining a Spotlight on a Dark Period of History

The Times of Israel

May 11, 2018

Trumps signs Act Strengthening Holocaust Restitution Efforts

The Jerusalem Post

May 10, 2018

Trump Signs Law to Help Holocaust Victims Reclaim Lost Property


May 10, 2018 


House passes bill to help Holocaust survivors obtain restitution, seized assets

The Times of Israel

April 25, 2018


Transcript- Israeli President In Birkenau: We Do Not Expect Justice In Europe

The Jerusalem Post

April 12, 2018