Law passed on Jewish property seized during Holocaust

The Serbian Assembly adopted the law on remedying the consequences of seizure of assets of Holocaust victims with no living legal heirs on Friday.

Source: Tanjug
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The Serbian National Assembly in Belgrade (Tanjug, file)
The Serbian National Assembly in Belgrade (Tanjug, file)

Under the law, financial support for the Union of Jewish Municipalities is provided from the Serbian budget in the form of payment of monetary sums totaling EUR 950,000 over a calendar year, for a period of 25 years, starting from 2017.

The Union and Jewish municipalities manage the revenues and use them to finance research into the Holocaust period, Holocaust education and scholarships for students and young talents in Serbia, among other things.

Under the document, a request for the return of assets will be submitted by a Jewish municipality, and the resulting procedure conducted by the Agency for Restitution.

New law welcomed

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia (SJO) has expressed its gratitude to the Serbian parliament, government and people for passing a law that will address heirless and unclaimed Jewish property expropriated during the Holocaust.

In a statement issued after the law was adopted in the Serbian parliament on Friday, the federation expressed its gratitude for Serbia's commitment to adopting the law.

By passing this law, Serbia has shown that it cares about its Jewish fellow citizens, and has become one of the countries that can serve as a shining example to the European family of nations.

At the same time, we members of the Jewish community in Serbia have drawn from it a great encouragement to revive our activities, culture and tradition, something that will surely benefit the country we have lived in, as its citizens, for centuries, the statement said.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) has lauded the the adoption of the Law on Remedying the Consequences of Seizure of Assets of Holocaust Victims with No Living Legal Heirs in Serbia.

“This is a step toward justice and the recognition of history,” Gideon Taylor, WJRO chair of operations said on Friday.

"Today, Serbia remembers those who perished in the Holocaust. We look to other countries to follow Serbia's lead and return heirless Jewish property so that it can help Holocaust survivors in need, commemorate those who died and strengthen Jewish life in these communities where so much was destroyed.”

The new law will provide urgently needed funds and property to sustain and revitalize Jewish life in Serbia, as well as support Serbian Holocaust survivors living in Serbia and abroad, the WJRO said.

The State of Israel welcomes Serbia's adoption of the law on remedying the consequences of seizure of assets of Holocaust victims with no living legal heirs, the embassy of Israel in Serbia said in a release late on Friday.

Such a Serbia should serve as example to other European countries, and this is a historic day for justice, morality, and commitment to the special relationship between the Serbs and the Jews, the embassy said.

When we speak about restitution here, we do not speak about the horrific scale of the Holocaust committed against the Jewish people by the Nazi Germany and their collaborators, but rather about a small compensation for confiscated property, the release said.

"The new law is a noble act of a great country that will breathe new life into the small Jewish community that it is today," said the release.

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