THE WORLD JEWISH RESTITUTION ORGANIZATION (WJRO) SIGNS HISTORIC AGREEMENT WITH LUXEMBOURG ON HOLOCAUST-ERA PROPERTY RESTITUTION
Agreement provides funds to Holocaust survivors; commits dedicated resources for Holocaust memorialization, remembrance, education, and research in Luxembourg; addresses key property issues
(Luxembourg) January 27, 2021: Today, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) signed a historic new agreement with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on outstanding Holocaust-era property restitution issues. The groundbreaking agreement was signed by the government of Luxembourg and the Jewish community of Luxembourg, together with WJRO and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah.
The agreement provides symbolic financial acknowledgment to Holocaust survivors who were in Luxembourg during the Holocaust. It commits dedicated resources to Holocaust memorialization, remembrance, research, and education. It also addresses key restitution issues including dormant bank accounts and insurance, as well as looted art.
“The agreement today is a profound statement by Luxembourg of its abiding commitment to preserving the memory of Jews who were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg. Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, the agreement provides symbolic support to Holocaust survivors from Luxembourg. The agreement also sets a clear process to identify and return dormant bank accounts, insurance policies, and looted art,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Organization (WJRO).
At the signing ceremony, Mr. Taylor said, “The past and the future are inextricably linked. This agreement both acknowledges what happened on the soil of occupied Luxembourg in the past and sets out a plan to educate for the future. This agreement says two things. Firstly, history matters. Secondly, the future is still to be written, and understanding the past can help us learn how to make a better and more just world.”
“We thank Prime Minister Xavier Bettel for his leadership on these issues. We also thank former US Ambassador J. Randolph Evans for his tireless advocacy and dedication for justice for Holocaust survivors, as well as US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels, Israeli Ambassador Emmanuel Nachshon, Israeli Special Envoy for Holocaust Era Restitution Ambassador Dan Haezrachy, and Avi Weber of the Israeli Ministry for Social Equality,” said Taylor.
A link to Gideon Taylor’s remarks in text and video at the signing ceremony in Luxembourg is available here.
“Today, Luxembourg commits to celebrating the rich contribution of Jews in Luxembourg and memorializing the horrors Jews suffered during the Holocaust. Development of Cinqfontaines into a memorial and education center is a profound statement by Luxembourg remembering victims and ensuring that such persecution will never be allowed to happen again. The agreement provides the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah resources to lead efforts to protect memory, preserve Jewish heritage sites, and support Holocaust survivors,” said Albert Aflalo, President of the Consistoire Israélite de Luxembourg.
It is estimated that during the Nazi occupation, three-quarters of the 3,907 Jews living in Luxembourg, were not citizens of the country. Government reports published in Luxembourg in 2009 and 2015 recognize that Jews who were not citizens did not receive compensation for the confiscation of their property during the Holocaust. After World War II, around 1,500 Jews returned to Luxembourg and today, about 1,200 reside in the country.
The Government of Luxembourg has agreed to:
● Provide one million Euros as a symbolic acknowledgement of support to Holocaust survivors from Luxembourg. Funds will be transferred to the World Jewish Restitution Organization to be distributed through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
● Purchase and renovate Cinqfontaines, where Luxembourg Jewish victims were gathered and then transported to death camps. Luxembourg will develop Cinqfontaines into a fitting place to memorialize Holocaust victims and to educate future generations. This project is estimated to cost over 25 million Euros.
● Contribute 120,000 Euros per year for 30 years to the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah to further Holocaust remembrance and other statutory purposes.
● Continue to support Le Comité pour la mémoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale (The Committee for the Remembrance of the Second World War) with an increased budget.
● Establish and fund independent research, provenance research, and work on the national archives to provide access to files related to the occupation of Luxembourg and the Holocaust.
● Enhance collaboration on the development of a national antisemitism strategy.
● Identify and restitute Holocaust-era dormant bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and insurance policies through an independent audit to be overseen by a joint committee composed of government officials as well as representatives of WJRO and the Jewish community.
● Conduct provenance research in accordance with the Washington Conference Principles and the Terezin Declaration to identify looted art and other cultural property to be returned in accordance with these declarations.
The agreement comes less than two years after a joint international delegation of WJRO and then-US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Tom Yazdgerdi, with the Jewish Community of Luxembourg and accompanied by US Ambassador J. Randolph Evans, met in Luxembourg with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Following the meeting, the Prime Minister established a working group to review open issues of Holocaust-era property restitution. The working group was composed of representatives of the Government of Luxembourg, the Jewish Community of Luxembourg, and the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The agreement does not detract from any existing rights that individuals may have to pursue property claims.
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