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Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Albania endorsed the Terezin Declaration in 2009 and the Guidelines and Best Practices in 2010.  The country does not have any restitution or compensation laws relating specifically to Holocaust-era confiscations of private property.  Under the law, religious communities have the same restitution and compensation rights as natural or legal persons.

The Albanian government reported no records of property claims submitted by victims of the Holocaust, and the Department is not aware of any claims by the local Jewish community or American citizens regarding real property dating from the Holocaust era.  However, the Agency for the Treatment of Property faces thousands of claims for private and religious property confiscated during the communist era, which would compound any challenges for victims of the Holocaust.  The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent, constitutional entity that serves as a watchdog over the government, and NGOs noted claimants in general still struggle to obtain due process from the government for property restitution.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art, Judaica, and Jewish Cultural Property

Albania participated in the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets and in the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague, but the country does not have restitution laws in place to cover movable property, nor do its institutions conduct provenance research.  The Department of State has not been made aware of issues regarding movable property.

Access to Archival Documents

The Albanian Archive reported having no property documents for Holocaust victims or their heirs in archival records.  Overall availability and integrity of archival documents are inconsistent.  In 2009, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum concluded a small archival preservation and copying project, which was supported by and made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Albanian government.

There are no reported immovable, movable, or cultural property claims submitted, though if there were, acquiring supporting archival documents would be difficult.  The fear prevalent in Albania during the Communist era caused people to avoid being linked to the ‘wrong’ resistance group, including any groups that might have sheltered Jews, even after the Communist regime collapsed in 1991.  The residual culture of silence from the Communist past partly explains why the rescue of Albanian Jews remained relatively unknown for many decades.  Some survivors could not overcome the difficulty of grappling with a painful past and did not tell their stories.  Albania’s Jewish community is small, and Jewish organizations and their activities are not well known to the general public.  Albanian archives and records contain many inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or gaps, making collection of facts difficult.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Education on the Holocaust is taught within the context of European history.

The Solomon Museum, Albania’s only Jewish history museum, opened in the city of Berat in 2018 and has a dozen framed panels on the walls bearing photos and stories from 500 years of Jewish life in the country.  There is an exhibit devoted to Albanian Jewish history in Tirana’s national museum.  Additionally, Albania’s current Minister of Culture has discussed establishing a National Museum of Jews in Vlora.

Albania commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and is an observer country of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  In January 2018, the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs hosted a conference in Tirana titled “We Remember:  Promoting Human Rights through the Lens of Holocaust Education and Remembrance.”  During the remembrance event in January 2017, then‑President Bujar Nishani awarded medals to 35 families and individuals who sheltered Jews during World War II.  On January 29 of the same year, the Anti‑Defamation League presented the Jan Karski “Courage to Care” award to the Albanian people.


Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Greece initiated several directives and restitution laws at the end of WWII.  In 1944, the Greek government was the first European government to state clearly that Greece should under no circumstances benefit from abandoned or confiscated Jewish property.

Greece was among the first countries to enact private property restitution legislation.  On October 27, 1944, the liberated Greek government enacted Law No. 2/1944 providing for the return of all properties originally belonging to Jews.  On May 23, 1945, Compulsory Law No. 337/1945, concerning the Annulment of Law 205/1944 regarding the Administration of Jewish Properties Abandoned or Impounded by the Occupation Authorities, was passed.  On December 31, 1945, Compulsory Law 808/1945 ordered the immediate return of Jewish property by the trustees to the original owners.  Communal property was returned to the Jewish community in Greece under the same set of laws applicable to private property restitution.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece allocates resources to rehabilitation programs for Jewish citizens.  To supplement the Central Board’s work, the Organization for the Relief and Rehabilitation of the Israelites of Greece (OPAIE) was founded in 1949.  OPAIE administers formerly Jewish-owned property left heirless after the Holocaust era.  It allocates resources to the Central Board for community‑rehabilitation programs and acts as the successor organization for all Jewish heirless property in the country.

The most emblematic case in which the physical return of property was not feasible was addressed in 2011 through the passage of Law No. 3943, under which the Greek government agreed to pay €10 million (the equivalent of $14 million in 2011) to the Jewish community of Thessaloniki as compensation for the Nazi destruction of the city’s historic Jewish cemetery.  After WWII, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was built on part of the cemetery’s land.  The Jewish community relinquished its claim to the property as part of the settlement.

Greece passed heirless property legislation related to the Holocaust in 1946.  Emergency Law 846/1946 on the Abolition of the Right of the Greek State to Inherit Jewish Property prevented Greece from assuming title for heirless Jewish properties.  In Greece, property generally reverts to state ownership when there are no heirs to claim it.

OPAIE claims more than 100 properties owned by Jews before the war are now used as government facilities.  In 2017, the country’s Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of OPAIE for one of these properties in the city of Rhodes that had been unlawfully registered and claimed as state property.  In 2019, the Jewish community and the Ministry of Finance agreed to jointly review, register, assess, and negotiate the disposition of other Rhodes properties through out‑of‑court settlements.  An intergovernmental committee has been formed to examine similar cases throughout the country.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art

Greece has conducted research on archaeological sites and artifacts that were plundered by the Nazis.  The resulting information has not been made public so as to limit the risk of underground markets in these objects.  Greece was the host of the fourth workshop of the European Shoah Legacy Institute’s Provenance Research Training Program, which was held in Athens in June 2014.  Provenance research, however, is still limited at museums and other cultural institutions in Greece.

Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

The Jewish Museum of Greece in Athens holds a few looted Judaica objects, with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece being responsible for these items.  So far as is known, no provenance research is being conducted on Judaica holdings in Greece’s other cultural institutions.

The Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw holds a number of religious artifacts that are reported to have been stolen from Greek Jews by the Nazis and found in the Eckersdorf Castle in Lower Silesia.  These items included ritual objects used as important accessories for religious observance (mainly rimonim, which are the decorated finials or end pieces used to adorn a sacred Torah scroll, and me’ilim, which are decorative traditional outer coverings for the Torah).  The Thessaloniki community requested the return of these items, but upon investigation, it became clear that the objects held in Warsaw were from all over Greece, not only Thessaloniki.  As a result, an understanding was reached that the objects should be sent to Athens and then distributed within the country.  To date, there have been no known successful restitution claims.

Greece endorsed the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art.  It is also a signatory to the International Council of Museums Code of Ethics.

Access to Archival Documents

The country’s most significant loss of Jewish cultural property relates to the looted archives of Jewish communities in Athens, Ioannina, Larissa, Volos, Didymoteicho, Kavala, and Thessaloniki.  Most of these archives are believed to be in the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow.  The Jewish community of Thessaloniki has a pending case against the Russian government for the return of these archives.

Access to Greek state and military archival material is relatively unhindered.  Some issues pertinent to the copying, transfer, and retention of archival documents outside of Greece are under review.

Other available archival resources include the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki’s 2009 published list of more than 37,500 names of the tens of thousands of Jews deported to concentration camps from all over the country.  The Jewish Museum of Greece’s Oral History Archive contains oral testimonies of some 115 Holocaust survivors.

On May 7, 2019, the parliament passed legislation defining as “religious community archives” the entire archival material filed or processed, inter alia, at the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece and at the offices of individual Jewish communities.  The law directs that all religious community archives should be preserved in good condition, be accessible to the public, and be catalogued under the national directory for archives of the state archives authority.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Greece has dedicated resources to achieve Terezin Declaration goals, including the promotion of Holocaust education and remembrance.  Greece is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and will hold the IHRA chairmanship in 2021.  Government officials regularly participate in commemoration ceremonies, including International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  As the deportation of Jews from Thessaloniki began on March 15, 1943, that date is also recognized as a day of remembrance.  President Pavlopoulos officially opened the new wing of the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki in October 2019, noting that it would serve “as a beacon for the fulfillment of the permanent duty to remember the Holocaust, at a time when admirers of Nazism and fascism are emerging again in Europe.”

Greece has multiple Holocaust memorials, many of which commemorate locations where Jews and other WWII victims were deported or killed, or where Jewish cemeteries, schools, or synagogues once stood.  Thessaloniki’s planned Holocaust Museum, for instance, will be built on the site of the old railway station where so many of the country’s Jews began their fatal journey to Auschwitz.

The public education curriculum includes Holocaust and human rights education.  For secondary school students, the Ministry of Education funds annual educational trips to Auschwitz.  Greek educators are encouraged to participate in Holocaust courses, such as the 2017 seminars developed by the Olga Lengyel Institute in partnership with the Jewish Museum of Greece and held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.  In 2014, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki reestablished its department of Jewish Studies with funding from the local Jewish community.


Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

There are no immovable property restitution laws specific to the Holocaust era because, as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) states, “Ireland was a neutral country during World War II and was not a participant in the conflict.  As such, the Government of Ireland understands that there are no specific issues with regards to Immovable Property Confiscated or otherwise related to Ireland.”  The Department of State is not aware of any claims by the local Jewish community or American citizens regarding real property dating from the Holocaust era.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art, Judaica, and Jewish Cultural Property

Although Ireland did not participate in the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, it has taken certain steps to abide by its principles.  The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (the Irish language) has confirmed that Ireland experienced only one case in which allegations concerning provenance were made and did not enact formal implementation mechanisms in this regard.  The country’s policy is to monitor these issues as they may evolve and to proceed on a case-by-case basis.  Ireland is a signatory to the International Committee of Museums’ Code of Ethics, which commits the country to documenting the provenance of state holdings of artwork.  The Irish government funded an evaluation group in 2005 and later funded the work of an internationally recognized expert on Nazi-looted art during World War II to investigate allegations made by the Wiesenthal Center in Paris that the Hunt Museum in Limerick held a significant amount of looted artwork.  These investigations found no incidences that the Hunt Museum held looted art.

In 2012-2013, the National Gallery of Ireland received two separate claims for restitution of three paintings in the national collection.  It was requested to either return these paintings or conclude a settlement conforming to the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-confiscated Art.  While Ireland was not a participant in the conference, the National Gallery’s website confirms it supports the consensus achieved at that conference.  The Gallery conducted internal research and commissioned a private provenance researcher; on both claims, the museum declined the requests for return of or a settlement for the items because of insufficient evidence.  It also said, however, that if new details come to light it would consider reexamining the claims.

There is no known indication of looted Judaica or Jewish cultural property present in Ireland.

Access to Archival Documents

Public access to archival documents is generally good, with the exception of particularly sensitive material, which is reviewed at least every five years to see if any document can be released for the public viewing.  Irish law guarantees the right of access to information, and the government abides by this right in practice.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Ireland is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  The Irish government co-organizes and has high-level participation in annual ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration, including on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  The government and civil society arrange public lectures, events, and exhibitions throughout Ireland.  The Irish government also provides funding to civil society organizations focused on promoting education and information about the Holocaust.  The Department of Education and Skills subsidizes the costs of intensive teacher training and a certificate in Holocaust education.  The Holocaust is a mandatory part of Ireland’s school curricula.

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