WORLD JEWISH RESTITUTION ORGANIZATION (WJRO) LAUNCHES THIRD ANNUAL SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN – #MyPropertyStory: Speak About Justice – BEHIND EVERY PROPERTY THERE IS A STORY
Campaign expands to TikTok, where Holocaust survivors and youth speak about seeking justice for the unprecedented theft of property from Jewish people and communities during the Shoah and its aftermath
To coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD) today, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) launched the third annual social media campaign, #MyPropertyStory: Speak About Justice, to shine a light on the unprecedented theft of property from Jewish people and communities during the Shoah and its aftermath. The five-week campaign will run from Thursday, January 27 and continue through Sunday, February 27.
Over the last two years, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world engaged in the #MyPropertyStory campaign. People participated through social media in response to stories of lives that were forever changed by the Holocaust and their homes, land, businesses, and personal possessions that were powerful links to their pasts.
This year, 77 years after the Holocaust, the campaign will focus on youth speaking about justice. Their stories will be powerful additions to the campaign, which is expanding to TikTok and other social media platforms.
“The #MyPropertyStory social media campaign has been extremely successfully across generations of Holocaust survivors and their families, and it is important that we continue to reach out to younger generations. This year’s campaign will focus on youth speaking about justice for property wrongfully seized by the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust and its aftermath. It will serve as a powerful reminder that even 77 years after the Holocaust, survivors and their families continue to await justice for the largest theft in history,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).
“#MyPropertyStory is an important social media campaign directed toward youth to elevate the issue of Holocaust era property restitution and shine a light on the stories of Holocaust victims who have lost so much. For Holocaust survivors, restitution or compensation for property is about justice and fairness. It is an acknowledgement of the destruction of their families and an opportunity to restore and reconnect with at least a small part of a life and culture that was so wrongfully taken from them. These stories will help ensure that the histories of survivors will not be distorted so that other generations can learn the truth and that justice may be attained,” said Mark Weitzman, Chief Operating Officer, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).
WJRO is asking people to engage with our #MyPropertyStory:SpeakAboutJustice campaign on TikTok. We are also asking participants to post their own stories, photos, and videos on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram and include the #MyPropertyStory and tag @WJRORestitution. People can also go to http://www.wjro.org.il/mps for easy access to one-click sharing of WJRO’s moving videos, stories, and photos on social media in English and Hebrew. There is also a general email address for any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis, their allies, and collaborators systematically robbed millions of Jews and Jewish communities throughout Europe of their every possession, including their homes, businesses, synagogues, artworks, Judaica, and other personal belongings. Each item represented a cherished memory, a loved one, a childhood cut short, a lifetime of labor – generations of history – people’s lives that were taken. The #MyPropertyStory: Speak About Justice social media campaign will help raise awareness about the issue of Holocaust era property restitution and ongoing efforts to secure a measure of justice for survivors and their families.
The #MyPropertyStory: Speak About Justice videos feature:
- Tova Friedman, one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz along with her daughter Taya Goodman, and her grandson, Aron Goodman from New Jersey – who share their own story of what has connected them to their family history. This video (and all additional campaign videos) can be reposted by anyone through this link.
- @Holocausteducation, with three videos about Holocaust property restitution by a Holocaust historian who aims to bring Holocaust education to people’s everyday lives.
- The story of the Romanian twin Mozes sisters– returning home from Auschwitz/Birkenau and building new lives
- The Woman in Gold and the untold story
- The Nazis Looted and Stole –why it is important to know the truth
- @thetrueadventures, 86 year-old Gidon Lev from Israel- co-author of The True Adventures of Gidon Lev, which describes not only his experience of surviving four years in the Theresienstadt concentration camp but also his long, fulfilling, adventurous life afterward – shares a video about everything that was stolen from him and his family.
- Ido Even Haim, a youth from Israel – who shares videos in Hebrew about stories of survivors and why we must continue to seek justice for survivors and their families before it’s too late.
For more information about the #MyPropertyStory campaign, please visit: wjro.org.il/mypropertystory.
Background Information about Recent Holocaust-era Property Restitution Activity
- Last year on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a historic agreement on Holocaust era property restitution was signed between WJRO, the State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Jewish community of Luxembourg, and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah. The agreement provides funds to Holocaust survivors; commits dedicated resources for Holocaust memorialization, remembrance, education, and research in Luxembourg; and addresses key property issues. The agreement demonstrates that even 77 years after the end of the Holocaust, when committed leaders come to the negotiating table with a deep understanding of the past, there is hope for the future. As Luxembourg Prime Minister Bettel noted at the signing ceremony, “It is never too late to act. Time has come to acknowledge our history and our responsibility.”
Survivors from Luxembourg have already started to receive financial support from the Luxembourg direct payment program. Deadline for applications is January 31, 2022. Learn more about the program here.
- In February 2021, with only two-days notice, WJRO successfully halted the auction of precious Jewish burial records that were taken during the Holocaust, at the request of two Romanian Jewish communities. Subsequently, WJRO alerted the US Department of Homeland Security, which resulted in further investigation. On July 22, US Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn announced that the US Department of Homeland Security had seized 17 Jewish funeral scrolls, manuscripts, and other records, taken from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, and Slovakia during World War II. The recent seizures by the US Department of Homeland Security of artifacts that disappeared from Jewish communities of Eastern Europe during the Holocaust are a very important step towards preserving the rich cultural Jewish history that goes back hundreds of years. These documents contain priceless historical information. The seizures send a powerful message that cultural property wrongfully taken during the Holocaust is a very serious crime and will be dealt with by the proper authorities.
- Both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have committed to prioritize the resolution of Holocaust era property restitution issues. Early last year, the President pledged that “the United States will continue to champion justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.” In March 2021, Secretary of State Blinken emphasized: “It is troubling and unacceptable that the work of restituting or providing a measure of compensation for property wrongfully seized during the Holocaust is still not complete in so many countries” and assured WJRO that: “We and our dedicated chiefs of mission abroad will continue to work with countries to help them meet their commitments under the 2009 Terezin Declaration.
- In July 2021, we marked the year anniversary of the groundbreaking Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act report released by the US State Department. The report makes clear that many European countries have not met their commitments on Holocaust era property restitution. The #MyPropertyStory campaign will help elevate the issue so that Holocaust survivors can obtain a measure of justice during their lifetime.
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