New York, May 2 –Holocaust survivors are still waiting for governments across Europe to provide restitution of, or compensation for, property stolen during the Shoah.
As the world commemorates Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on May 5, tens of thousands of survivors around the world are living their final years in poverty. Many European governments have not met their commitment to provide these survivors, or their families, a measure of justice for the theft of victims’ property.
“This Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), as the world remembers the Holocaust, I ask that the generations of those born after the Holocaust commit to continue the struggle that our generation started,” said Holocaust survivor Jehuda Evron. “Future generations need to continue efforts to recover what the Nazis, as well as subsequent Communist governments, unjustly took from us and our families and from Jewish communities.”
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) announces a social media campaign to call attention to the issue of Holocaust-era property restitution.
The campaign is supported on Facebook and Twitter (under #HolocaustJustice) by a number of high profile Jewish individuals, including former Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and Hadassah Lieberman, daughter of Holocaust survivors; jurist and author Professor Alan Dershowitz; and actor Joshua Malina (“Scandal,” “The West Wing”).
It is a call from Holocaust survivors to their children’s and grandchildren’s generations, to take on the fight for justice. The campaign urges individuals and organizations concerned with justice for Holocaust victims to sign a petition on Change.org. The petition is addressed to the heads of state of the 47 nations that endorsed the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues.
“This is about bringing the campaign for historical justice to the world of social media,” said Gideon Taylor, chair of operations of WJRO. “We are asking a younger generation to post on Facebook and tweet under ‘#HolocaustJustice’ to urge their friends to sign this petition and join this effort to help Holocaust survivors.”
Taylor added, “More than seven decades after the Holocaust, survivors and their heirs should not have to wait any longer for a small measure of justice for the theft committed against them. We are urging governments in Europe to resolve these issues now so that Holocaust survivors can live with dignity and so that Jewish communities in Europe can be sustained and revitalized.”
There are an estimated 500,000 Holocaust survivors living around the world today, with many of them living in poverty. Providing restitution or compensation for property taken from them and their families would enable them to live their remaining years with dignity and comfort, and for their heirs to receive a small measure of justice for the crimes committed against previous generations.
Evron, president of the Holocaust Restitution Committee, has spent the past two decades fighting for the return of property taken by the Nazi regime from their Jewish victims, including his wife’s family.
Malina said in a video posted on WJRO’s website: “With the World Jewish Restitution Organization, I ask that you join a Call to Action on behalf of these survivors and their heirs. There aren’t many survivors left, and most of them are in their eighties. So, it really is up to us as the younger generation to fight to right a historic wrong.”
Other global celebrities have expressed support for the ‘Call to Action’:
Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband; former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Stuart Eizenstat; Dame Rosalyn Higgins, DBE, QC, former president of the International Court of Justice; Lord Daniel Finkelstein, British journalist and politician; Lord Robert Winston, scientist and television presenter; and Baroness Ruth Deech, QC (Hon.), legal scholar.
Prominent Israelis supporting the effort include: Gila Almagor, actress; former Defense Minister Moshe Arens; former Chiefs of the Mossad Ephraim Halevy and Danny Yatom; David D’Or, singer; Haim Gouri, poet and novelist; Lea Koenig, actress; and Nava Semel, author.
The campaign is supported by over 30 major Jewish organizations from around the world, listed on WJRO’s website.
The Terezin Declaration was approved by 47 countries and announced a program of activities geared toward ensuring assistance, redress and remembrance for victims of Nazi persecution. Participating countries emphasized the importance of providing restitution for communal and individual immovable property. Yet to date, many countries have no laws to provide restitution or compensation, while other countries have laws in place, but those laws are often exclusionary and the restitution processes created are often slow and unjust.
The 47 nations that signed the Terezin Declaration are Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
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