by Rhodri C. Williams
A short note to announce an interesting development related to Holocaust restitution. Although the opening of archives and the softening of unenlightened political positions after the Cold War contributed to a surge in efforts to provide reparations to Holocaust survivors, former forced laborers and other victims of the Nazis, these have tended to comprise cash compensation, symbolic acts such as apologies and various forms of rehabilitation. Actual restitution of confiscated real estate has lagged behind, dogged by the usual problems facing inter-generational restitution (loss of witnesses and documentation, competing claims from bona fide subsequent purchasers, etc.) along with grim particularity that so many of the beneficiaries were murdered along with all potential heirs.
However, a little known achievement of the rather stormy Czech EU presidency last year was the convening of a ‘Holocaust Era Assets Conference‘ in Prague in order to “support Holocaust remembrance and education in national, as well as international, frameworks and to fight against all forms of intolerance and hatred.” While the work of the conference focused on a variety of topics from restoring looted art works to education and research, one of the goals set for the participants related more directly to lost property: Continue reading