HOME  DISINFORMATION  POLAND
Andrzej Stylinski   Associated Press   06Aug99   Lawsuits arouse deep concern
Experts estimate the law could bring about as many as 170,000 claims totaling between $29 billion and $34 billion.  That is roughly the amount of Poland's annual government budget.
If all parties could be compensated for all losses during World War II, this would be just, and Poles among the foremost victims of the war would then be able to pay Jews for their losses out of the compensation that Poles received for their losses.  However, this idealistic scheme fails if any victim pays compensation more fully than he receives.

Specifically, Poland might fail to receive adequate compensation for three reasons: (1) much of Poland's compensation would need to come from Russia, which may be unwilling or unable to pay; (2) the magnitude of compensation might be proportional to media influence, of which Poles may have less than Jews; and (3) Poles may have less enthusiasm than Jews for laying blame and extracting compensation, and may have less practise in these pursuits as well.

Should the worst-case-for-Poland outcome envisioned below be realized, then it would be a case of the presently wealthier of two former victims pauperizing the presently poorer.


Poland Rejects US Holocaust Lawsuits

By ANDRZEJ STYLINSKI
Associated Press Writer
06Aug99

WARSAW, Poland (AP) People who have filed suits in the United States seeking the return of property once belonging to Polish Jews are suing in the wrong jurisdiction, a Polish government lawyer said today.

"If someone has a claim against me, he should come to the place I live and make the claim here," Witold Danilowicz told a news conference.

International law does not allow the suing of sovereign countries in courts of other nations, Danilowicz said.

"Our position is that American courts are not empowered to review those cases," he said.

Danilowicz was referring to two class-action lawsuits one filed in New York by 11 American Jews and one filed in Chicago by four plaintiffs accusing the Polish government and treasury of illegally seizing Jewish property after World War II.

Both suits demand the return of property that once belonged to Polish Jews, who numbered 3.5 million in 1939 but only about 500,000 when the war ended.

Regardless of their legal standing, the lawsuits have aroused deep concern in Poland because of the nature of the accusations.  The suits accuse individual Poles and the Polish government of using violence, threats, torture and intimidation to prevent returning Jews from reclaiming their property and businesses after the war.

Other surviving Jews, fearing anti-Semitic violence in their homeland, never returned. Their property, and that of victims who died, was seized, according to the lawsuit filed in New York in June.

Government spokesman Krzysztof Luft said the lawsuits accuse Poland of "continuing the Holocaust" after the war ended.

"Making Poland responsible in the same way as Nazi Germany is unprecedented slander," Luft said.

He said compensation or the return of property would be possible under a proposed restitution law.

Experts estimate the law could bring about as many as 170,000 claims totaling between $29 billion and $34 billion.  That is roughly the amount of Poland's annual government budget.

A compromise being worked on by the government would allow Poland to repay up to 60 percent of a claim's value, or to offer stock in state-owned companies undergoing privatization.


HOME  DISINFORMATION  POLAND