Prague – Dozens of country are likely to agree soon on international rules for returning property stolen by the Nazis, a U.S. official said.
More than 30 countries held talks Thursday in Prague on draft guidelines regarding restitution, said Stuart Eizenstat, a special adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State on Holocaust issues.
If agreed to, they would be the first international rules ever, Eizenstat said. He said he hoped the rules, which would not be legally binding, could be announced in early June.
“This is the first time in which this difficult issue has been addressed,” he told the Associated Press.
Eizenstat said the principles should allow flexibility and other possible means of compensation in cases where a return would be neither practical nor fair because someone else had been using the property for decades.
Eizenstat explained that one area is to discuss the return of property, such as cemeteries, schools, community centers and synagogues, then some form of joint ownership “of Jewish or other religious groups.” The second area is the discussion about the return of property of individuals, which were often later nationalized by Communist governments in Central and Eastern Europe. He said the proposals contain “creative ways” and various trade-offs.
Eizenstat said, The Holocaust was the greatest mass murder in history, but also the largest organized robbery of all time.
Six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, who seized billions of dollars of gold, art and private and communal property across Europe.