‘Wild re-privatization will lead to chaos’ – Polish ambassador clarifies property restitution law that enraged Israel

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In a series of tweets in English, the Polish ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, gave both historical context and reasoning behind the recent change to Polish property restitution law which has been heavily criticized by Israel.

“Imagine a house in Warsaw. Burnt out and abandoned in 1945. Before the German occupation, six families had lived in this place. One of them was Jewish. Some tenants perished, some were deported to concentration camps, some others fled the persecution,” he wrote.

The ambassador then explained how new families were moving into the abandoned houses in the communist era, during which homes were nationalized. Moreover, many of these new families had lost their property without compensation in Eastern Poland, which became part of the Soviet Union.

Magierowski explained that the families lived in these homes for generations. In 1990, they were given an offer by local authorities to purchase their apartments at a reasonable price. Many accepted and invested in their homes’ infrastructure.

He underlined that it was a shock for many of these families when, in the early 2000s, law firms representing prewar proprietors showed up and demanded the homes to be vacated and returned to their owners.

There had been many such claims, mostly in Warsaw. While some of them were transparent, there were many that were dubious, which included missing ownership certificates, forged documents — all fertile ground for real estate scams.

“The so-called ‘wild re-privatization’ leads to utter chaos. Mafia-like entities control large parts of the real estate market. Organized white-collar crime thrives,” the ambassador added.


Magierowski emphasized that after more than 75 years, people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust are facing eviction from properties which they legally own and invested in.

The Polish ambassador to Israel further explained that in 2015, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal issued a ruling which ended these predatory practices and is now being implemented into the Polish Code of Administrative Procedure. Henceforth, a 30-year non-discriminatory limitation has been imposed. Interested parties will still be entitled to file civil lawsuits and obtain compensation.

The passing of the new amendment by Polish parliament was met with severe criticism from Israel. The Israeli embassy in Poland declared that the law will make it impossible to recover Jewish property or receive compensation, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that the new law was “a disgrace”.

Title image: Two Polish soldiers make their way through the gutted city of Warsaw, capital of Poland, near the former U.S. Embassy, destroyed by Nazi Germany forces, Nov. 1945, AP Images.


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