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Bulgaria

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

After World War II, the Law on Settling the Property Issues Derived from the Revocation of the Anti-Jewish Laws (March 1945) provided for “restitution to Jews, Jewish cultural, political, and other organizations and legal persons of all immovable property expropriated or confiscated by the state” in the 1940s.  The law further stipulated that heirless property became state property except for movable property, housing property, studios, garages, and plots designated for housing development, which became municipal property.  The Communist government subsequently nationalized all personal and community property, including Jewish property.

After the fall of Communism, Jewish organizations and individuals could reclaim ownership of, or receive compensation for, communal and private — but not heirless — property nationalized by the Communist regime.  The Law on Restitution of Ownership on Nationalized Immovable Property of 1992 and the Law on Compensating Owners of Nationalized Property of 1999 provided mechanisms for restitution and/or compensation of both communal and private property, including through government bonds when restitution or the return of substitute property was not possible.  Individual claimants did not have to be Bulgarian citizens, but eligible non-citizen claimants were required to sell any returned property.  The deadline to submit claims was November 2007.  According to Shalom, almost all claims to communal property have been settled.  One property located on the grounds of the Naval Academy in Varna remains in dispute with the Ministry of Defense, which refuses to restore it to the Jewish community, claiming it is used for strategic communications.  Bulgaria has no restitution legislation for confiscated heirless property but is a party to the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, which calls for the return of unclaimed and heirless Jewish property.

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

Bulgaria endorsed the Washington Principles on Nazi-looted Art 1998.  There are no known outstanding claims regarding Nazi-confiscated or looted art, or looted Judaica or Jewish cultural property present in Bulgaria.  Bulgarian museums and galleries have not conducted provenance research on their holdings.  Bulgaria has not addressed bank accounts that were taken from Thrace and Macedonia.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Bulgaria became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in November 2018.  A Deputy Foreign Minister serves as national coordinator for combating anti‑Semitism.  The Ministry of Education and Shalom are collaborating on the development of a Holocaust curriculum for public schools.  NGOs provide regular training on Holocaust-related issues to educators.  In February and March 2018, the Ministry of Education organized visits by Jewish community representatives to high schools throughout the country to conduct student outreach and education on Holocaust issues.

Bulgarian authorities and Bulgarians generally tend to focus on how the country saved its Jewish citizens but avoid discussing the country’s role in sending thousands of Jews from Bulgarian-occupied Thrace and Macedonia to the death camps.  Senior government leaders participate in the annual March 10 commemoration of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews, held at the Salvation Monument outside Parliament, as well as in International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and other events.  There are Holocaust monuments and plaques around the country in towns that had large Jewish communities or where Jewish people were interned and subjected to forced labor in the 1940s.  There is also a memorial to the Jews deported from Bulgarian-occupied Thrace and Macedonia in Lom, Bulgaria.

Poland

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Private Property

In the 1960s, the government signed bilateral agreements in which Poland transferred money to certain foreign governments to cover foreign citizen claims for private property losses sustained after 1939. Among these agreements was the 1960 U.S.-Poland indemnification agreement, based on which Poland transferred $40 million to the U.S. government to cover claimants who were U.S. citizens at the time their property was wrongfully seized. This agreement did not cover those who were Polish citizens at the time their property was seized and only later became naturalized U.S. citizens; it therefore excluded most Polish Holocaust survivors and their families.

In 1999, the Polish government proposed a private property bill that would have provided a percentage of the current fair market value to anyone who had lost property during WWII or the Communist period.  The Polish parliament, however, amended the bill to limit its application only to current Polish citizens, and the bill was vetoed in 2001 by then President Kwasniewski as a result.  The Polish government reports that as of April 2019, it has paid approximately $2.29 billion in compensation to claimants of various nationalities via an assortment of legal instruments and procedures legislated since 1989, including the physical return of some original or in-kind property.  Of this $2.29 billion, according to the government, approximately 4.5 billion zloty ($1.2 billion) went to settlements arising under the 2005 “Bug River” law, and 1.2 billion zloty ($338.7 million) went to settlements under legal provisions specifically governing Warsaw (both are further described below).

[Note: For cases involving private rather than communal property, the government does not generally track the religion of claimants; these figures therefore include restitution to Holocaust victims and other victims of WWII and the Communist period.]

In 2005, in response to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, Poland enacted the “Bug River” law providing for compensation for private property lost by Polish owners who resided in territory that became part of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, or Ukraine as a result of Poland’s post-WWII border changes.  The  legislation obligated the government to create a register of all eligible claimants and pay compensation at 20 percent of a property’s value at the time of taking.  Eligible claimants were property owners (or heirs) who were Polish citizens on September 1, 1939, who left the affected territory, and who retained their Polish citizenship.  Holocaust survivors, their families, and any others who did not retain their Polish citizenship were excluded.  By the December 2008 filing deadline, 91,845 claims had been submitted under the law.  The Ministry of Interior and Administration reported that by the end of February 2019, the government had paid compensation for 74,058 claims worth approximately 4.5 billion zloty ($1.2 billion).

Poland does not have a separate mechanism or process to address private property claims other than the “Bug River” or Warsaw areas. The World Jewish Restitution Organization estimates that a total of 2.55 billion zloty ($680 million) has been paid to claimants for all property within the current borders of Poland for areas outside of Warsaw. Claimants in Poland may pursue restitution through administrative court proceedings or through settlement agreements with municipal governments or the national treasury. In practice, in order to succeed, claimants must seek nullification of Communist nationalizations by demonstrating that a procedural flaw occurred. Some American citizen claimants have reported that the process is cumbersome, lengthy, costly, and ineffective. They report that the process is particularly difficult for heirs to claims that were made by parents or grandparents who died without receiving compensation for their looted, confiscated, or nationalized property.

In 2016, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal upheld legislation passed in 2015 designed to prevent those publicly owned properties in Warsaw that previously had been privately owned from being returned to their pre-Communist era owners. The law sought to terminate 70-year-old claims that had remained unresolved due to the inability to determine the parties to the proceedings. Some outside observers, as well as American citizen claimants and their lawyers, reported that the administration of the law makes it almost impossible for claimants successfully to reclaim their property. Specifically, some claimants have said that the law did not allow enough time to complete succession (inheritance) proceedings in Polish courts, which the law requires, despite the fact that in other circumstances Polish inheritance law recognizes heirs as determined under U.S. law.

In March 2017, parliament passed a law establishing a government commission to investigate accusations of corruption in private property restitution in Warsaw. The law authorized the commission to: (1) issue a decision confirming a restitution decision; (2) partially or entirely annul a restitution decision and issue a different decision; (3) annul a restitution decision in its entirety and send the case back to the appropriate institution for review; (4) publicly declare that a restitution decision was made in violation of the law if circumstances made it impossible for the commission to reverse a decision they determine was made illegally; and (5) discontinue current restitution cases. In June 2018, the commission reported it had reviewed 593 restitution cases and issued 74 decisions during its first 12 months of operation. The commission chair estimated the commission’s actions returned property valued at approximately 700 million zloty ($184 million) to the City of Warsaw. Administrative and court decisions have slowed as a result of this review process, causing some outside observers – including lawyers representing Holocaust survivors or their heirs – to argue that the commission had a negative effect on private and communal property restitution cases.

In 2017, the Justice Ministry proposed a new comprehensive, national private property restitution law. The draft law would have: (1) blocked any physical return of remaining properties (whether privately or publicly owned); (2) provided compensation in cash or government bonds of 20 to 25 percent of the property’s value at the time of taking; and (3) set a one-year filing period for claims. The draft law limited claimants to current Polish citizens who had been Polish citizens at the time their property was seized or their direct heirs. Some outside observers expressed concern that the proposed legislation would have effectively excluded foreign claimants, many of whom were Holocaust survivors or their heirs. In 2018, the chair of the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers withdrew the legislation on the grounds that it needed further revision and analysis, including with regard to questions about its potential costs and compliance with national and international law.

Communal and Religious Property

Poland has laws enabling the restitution of certain communal religious property. The process, while incomplete, has allowed for the return of many synagogues.

Four joint commissions oversee communal religious property restitution claims that were submitted by the filing deadlines, one each for the Jewish community, the Lutheran Church, and the Orthodox Church, and one for all other denominations. (A fifth joint commission related to property of the Catholic Church is addressed below.) The commissions function in accordance with legislation providing for the restitution of property to religious communities nationalized during or after WWII. The law governing such restitution does not, however, address communal properties that the Communist regime sold or turned over to new private owners after WWII. The Ministry of Interior and Administration and the respective religious community each appoint representatives to the commissions. Although the law provides that decisions by the commission on communal property claims may not be appealed, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled in 2013 that parties could appeal commission decisions in administrative courts. The Department of State is not aware of any reports of parties filing such appeals.

The 1997 Act on the Relations between the State and Jewish Religious Communities in the Republic of Poland regulates the restitution of Jewish communal property. According to the Ministry of Interior and Administration, as of December 2018, the Jewish communal property restitution commission had partially or entirely resolved 2,810 of the 5,554 claims filed by the Jewish community by the 2002 filing deadline. According to the Foreign Ministry, the commission has awarded 88 million zloty ($23 million) in compensation to Jewish religious communities since its establishment. Some Jewish community representatives report that the pace of Jewish communal property restitution is slow, involves considerable legal expense, and often ends without recovery of property or other compensation for claimants.

By comparison, the Catholic Church joint property commission had resolved all but 216 of its 3,063 claims by 2011. According to the Ministry of Interior and Administration, the remaining religious community property commissions resolved 87 communal property claims in 2018, leaving unresolved more than 3,000 of the 7,000 claims filed by other religious groups. At the end of 2018, the commissions had partially or entirely resolved 989 of 1,200 claims by the Lutheran community, 268 of 472 claims by the Orthodox Church, and 87 of 170 claims by all other denominations.

The laws on religious communal property restitution do not address the issue of disputed communal properties that are now privately owned, and outside observers argue that the government has left several controversial and complicated cases unresolved. For example, a number of buildings and residences were built on land that included Jewish cemeteries destroyed during or after WWII. Experts on communal property assess that all of the straightforward Jewish communal property cases have been resolved; they note that the Jewish communal property restitution commission is unable to proceed with most of the remaining claims, as the government does not agree that the properties fall under the definition of a religious communal property. Several claims awarded to the Jewish community during the last two years remained unpaid as of mid-2019.

Cemeteries

The devastation and human toll of Nazi-perpetrated crimes during the Holocaust left most of Poland’s more than 1,200 Jewish pre-WWII cemeteries with no surviving Jewish population to care for them.  The restitution of Jewish cemeteries on land owned by local municipalities or the national treasury falls under the Jewish communal property joint commission.  Cemeteries are returned to the local Jewish community if one exists nearby, or to the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland if no local community remains.  The Union transfers these burial grounds to the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, a partnership of the Union and the World Jewish Restitution Organization.  Some Jewish community representatives have argued that Jewish cemeteries are part of Poland’s cultural heritage and that the national government should take over ownership, restoration, and preservation of such sites around the country.  In December 2017, the national parliament allocated 100 million zloty ($28.7 million)  to the Cultural Heritage Foundation to subsidize an endowment  to restore, preserve, and maintain the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.

A 1959 law on cemeteries and burials requires that a religious community give permission before its cemetery area can be used for any other purpose. However, conflicts persist over the use of Jewish cemeteries that were nationalized during the Communist era. For example, in 2018, an issue arose regarding the commercial utilization of parts of a historic cemetery in Siemiatycze that was no longer listed as a cemetery in current land records.

In July 2017, the General Inspector of Monuments of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Culture Ministry) provided official guidelines to all provincial governors and inspectors of monuments for strengthening the protection of Jewish cemeteries. In August 2017, the Act on Stewardship of Historical Monuments was amended to require that provincial inspectors of monuments approve the sale, exchange, donation, or lease of land owned by the national or local governments that encompasses or includes historic cemeteries in order to prevent commercial construction on the sites of former Jewish cemeteries. Also in 2017, the Culture Ministry – in cooperation with the National Heritage Board of Poland, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Jewish Historical Institute, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, the Rabbinical Commission for Cemeteries, the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, and the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland – began the first full inventory and verification of historical boundaries of all Jewish cemeteries in Poland. In 2018, the Culture Ministry instituted a project to place markers designating the boundaries of Jewish cemeteries and to place a memorial stone featuring a plaque declaring the site to be a Jewish cemetery. By February 2019, the Culture Ministry had completed the project for six Jewish cemeteries out of an estimated 1,200 in the country.

Heirless Property

Poland has not passed a law to address the significant amount of private property left heirless by the Holocaust. Instead, heirless property is governed by Polish inheritance law, which requires that such property be returned to the local municipality or national treasury. According to the government, Poland began immediately after WWII to reconcile the legal status of property left by owners, including Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, under a series of decrees regulating derelict and abandoned property, as part of the overall nationalization of private property under the post-war Communist regime.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Poland has made a serious commitment to Holocaust commemoration; the government funds museums and monuments, including eight state memorial museums at former Nazi German concentration and extermination camps operated in occupied Poland. Poland planned to host a major international commemoration event in January 2020 to observe the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camps.

Poland has statutorily mandated Holocaust education requirements for students beginning in the fifth grade and continuing through the end of high school. According to an official at the POLIN Museum, the Ministry of National Education’s Holocaust education requirements specify that students in grades five through eight should be able to do the following: characterize Nazi German policy in occupied Europe; explain the extermination of Jews, Roma, and other ethnic groups; and cite examples of heroism of Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

At the high school level, students should be able to present the ideological background leading to the extermination of Jews and other ethnic and social groups by Nazi Germany; characterize the stages of the extermination of Jews (discrimination, stigmatization, isolation, and annihilation); recognize the main places of extermination, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Sobibor; describe the attitude of Jews towards the Holocaust, including the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; and characterize the attitudes of Polish society and the international community towards the Holocaust, including the “Righteous Among the Nations,” by using examples. A report by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides further details on the Holocaust education requirements in public schools.

The Ministry of National Education appointed a Holocaust Education Advisory Council in January 2018. The council is managed by the ministry’s Plenipotentiary for Polish-Jewish Relations and is composed of experts in the field of Holocaust education. The government also organizes and/or funds several Holocaust education programs outside of school, including exchange programs for teachers organized by Yad Vashem and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

Some outside observers argue that the time allotted for Holocaust education – one to two hours per year per grade – is insufficient for students to understand the Holocaust, its causes, and consequences. Additionally, some argue that the government has inserted a specific historical narrative into the curriculum, such as mandating that teachers only use the examples of Righteous Among the Nations awardees when discussing the actions of Polish citizens during the Holocaust.

Poland’s 1999 Act on the Protection of Former Nazi Death Camps extended legal protection to eight Holocaust memorials in Poland and established state or local museums at each site. These include the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the State Museum at Majdanek, the Museum and Memorial Site in Sobibor, the Museum and Memorial Site at Belzec, the Stutthof Museum, the Gross-Rosen Museum in Rogoznica, the Treblinka Museum, and the Museum of the Former German Kulmhof Death Camp.

The Culture Ministry supervises and finances seven of the eight museums and provides support for the Museum of the Former German Kulmhof Death Camp. Additionally, the Culture Ministry funds several Holocaust memorial-related museums, including the POLIN Museum in Warsaw, which recounts the 1,000-year heritage of Jews in Poland, and the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II, located in Markowa. The Culture Ministry is also working on plans for two additional Holocaust memorial museums, including the Warsaw Ghetto Museum and the KL Plaszow Memorial Site at the former KL Plaszow Nazi labor camp, in Krakow. From 2017 to 2018, the Culture Ministry allocated 287 million zloty ($76 million) in grants for projects related to Jewish culture, of which 161 million zloty ($42.3 million) was allocated for Holocaust museums and memorials.

Poland is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In 2000, then-Prime Minister Buzek announced the establishment of the International Auschwitz Council, which advises the country’s Council of Ministers on the preservation and function of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and other Holocaust memorials. Top national government officials, including the President and the Prime Minister, participate in annual remembrance ceremonies, including International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and the commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Poland allocates public funds to support Holocaust survivors. In 2014, Poland enacted a law that provides a monthly pension to Holocaust survivors from the country, wherever they reside, equivalent to the amount the government provides to pensioners in Poland. The 1991 Act on Combatants and Victims of War and Post-war Repression authorized allowances for eligible WWII combatants and victims of repression. As part of that law, survivors who were incarcerated in ghettos, concentration camps, labor camps, and death camps were eligible to receive cash benefits, including pension and disability allowances. The Foreign Ministry reported in mid-2019 that the government had paid 28.4 billion zloty ($7.5 billion) in pensions and disability since the law was enacted. These benefits are also available for qualified survivors who were Polish citizens during the Holocaust and later emigrated, although some lawyers representing eligible U.S. citizens have reported that it is difficult to apply for these benefits. Difficulties include evidentiary requirements for survivors who already have been recognized as survivors by Germany, the Claims Conference, or Israel. The requirement to produce additional documentation is particularly difficult for Holocaust survivors who may have lost their documents during the war. Additionally, certain categories of victims – including people who survived in hiding – are excluded.

Many Polish citizens benefitted from an agreement negotiated by the U.S. government with the German government in July 2000 that included compensation for certain slave and forced laborers. Of the 10 billion DM (worth approximately $5 billion at that time) Germany paid out worldwide under this agreement, the Polish government received 1.812 billion DM (approximately $906 million, using 2000 conversion rates) for payments to surviving former slave and forced laborers still living in Poland as of 2000. According to the final report of Germany’s “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation,” the Polish partner organization implementing the agreement in Poland made payments to 483,902 people. Experts estimate that the vast majority of beneficiaries were likely non-Jewish forced laborers, based on the relatively small number of Jewish slave laborers believed to have survived the war and still be alive and resident in Poland in 2000.

Romania

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Private property seized during the Holocaust included farmland, forests, food processing plants, mills, distilleries, homes, apartments and buildings.  Romania passed laws to reverse the confiscation of Jewish and Roma property soon after the fascist regime was deposed in August 1944.  Legislation included Law No. 641/1944 (regarding the abolition of anti-Semitic measures) and Law No. 607/1945 (regarding the annulment of certain contracts that transferred property during exceptional circumstances).  Since the country’s 1989 revolution, some claimants have pursued court cases to seek restitution of private property under Law 641/1944, which entitles Jews to seek restitution of certain properties confiscated during the Holocaust.  There is no known statistical data covering restitution cases filed under Law 641/1944, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the courts have granted restitution or compensation in only a small percentage of these cases.

Claims by some foreign citizens relating to war damage and nationalization were settled through bilateral agreements with foreign governments (e.g., United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom).  Restitution began to take place after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, although post-Communist restitution laws effectively often excluded Holocaust-era confiscations.  Laws enacted in the 1990s for private and communal property restitution sometimes overlapped or conflicted and were not well enforced.

In the last decade, Romania has passed several broad laws on private property restitution.  Following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, Romania passed Law No. 165/2013 to rectify systemic problems with its restitution program for private property confiscated by the Communist regime.  In 2016, subsequent legislation prioritized the processing of private property claims made by Holocaust survivors and resolved technical issues that had been delaying the return of certain Jewish communal properties.

The 2016 legislation was adopted during the tenure of then-Prime Minister Cioloș. Proposals that could help unblock or expedite the processing of remaining private and communal property claims, as well as proposals to make the application for a pension program less burdensome to Holocaust survivors who no longer have Romanian citizenship, are under review in discussions with the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania and the WJRO.

During the Holocaust, the regime seized cemeteries, synagogues, schools, hospitals, and other types of Jewish communal or religious property.  Under Romanian law, the Jewish community is entitled to receive compensation for buildings and land confiscated or nationalized between September 6, 1940, and December 22, 1989.  The Caritatea Foundation has obtained restitution or compensation for 40 percent of the communal properties it identified.  Lack of access to archival documents and the destruction of some archival collections limited the Foundation’s ability to file claims for all the identified communal properties before the 2006 deadline.  Romania’s National Authority for Property Restitution reports a much higher percentage of successful claims (up to 90 percent).

Legislation passed in 2016 clarifies the Caritatea Foundation’s rights to 55 Jewish communal properties, such as schools and burial societies that were incorporated separately from properties owned by the country’s pre-Holocaust central Jewish communities.  This 2016 legislation also resolved a technical issue that had delayed 40 of the Caritatea Foundation’s claims for properties that the Jewish communities were compelled to “donate” to the state during the Communist era.

Romanian law established a point system for compensation in private and communal property cases where restitution was not possible.  Religious groups can use the points only to bid on other properties in auctions organized by the National Commission for Real Estate Compensation.  The Commission validates compensation decisions of other local or central authorities, including those of the Special Restitution Commission within the National Authority for Property Restitution, which decides on restitution claims filed by religious denominations and national minorities.  As is done with private property, these laws establish a 240-day period during which claimants must submit additional evidence in their cases when requested by the entity in charge of resolving their restitution claim.  If a claimant cannot meet the deadline, the administrative authority may reject the case.  The authority may extend the deadline by an additional 120 days if the claimant can prove he/she made a concerted effort to obtain the evidence (usually in the possession of other state authorities), although was unable to do so.

The 1947 Treaty of Paris requires Romania to return heirless and unclaimed property to the Jewish community.  Romania enacted legislation in 1948 (Law No. 113) designed to implement the Treaty by transferring property belonging to victims of racial or religious persecution to organizations that would benefit remaining members of the community.  According to a 2016 report by the European Shoah Legacy Institute, the law “was never fully or meaningfully implemented.”

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Romania joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2004 and held the chairmanship in 2016-2017.  A key achievement during its chairmanship was the adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism in May 2016, followed by Romania’s national adoption of the definition in May 2017.  The IHRA website (www.holocaustremembrance.com ) provides details about post-Terezin Declaration developments in Romania, including the preservation of killing sites and the acknowledgement of the Romanian role in the Holocaust.

The government commemorates National Holocaust Remembrance Day on October 9, marking the day in 1941 when the Romanian authorities began deporting the country’s Jews to Transnistria.  Schools and some public institutions also commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.  In May 2019, government representatives participated in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.  Plaques are present at train stations located in areas from where Jews were deported during the Holocaust.  Memorial sites relevant to the country’s Holocaust history are also present in several cities.

The Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, located in Bucharest, has carried out research on the Holocaust since 2005.  The Institute implements a range of commemorative and educational projects, including training for teachers and educational resources for schools and exhibitions.  The Ministry of Education organizes a national student contest every two years dedicated to the memory and history of the Holocaust.

Not all textbooks include accurate information about the Holocaust in Romania, and teaching Holocaust history is mandated only in the seventh grade.  The high school course “History of the Jews – The Holocaust” is optional, and few students choose to take it.  In March 2019, the Ministry of Education, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Wiesel Institute agreed on an arrangement that lays the groundwork for introducing high quality, historically accurate lessons on the history of the Holocaust and the Jewish people in Romania into the public school curriculum.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Wiesel Institute also hold regular trainings on the country’s Holocaust history for police officers.

In June 2019, the Wiesel Institute requested that the Romanian government approve the transfer of a lot adjacent to the Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History in Bucharest to build a museum dedicated to the Holocaust.  This request was not approved, but in September 2019, Romania’s parliament passed a bill transferring a building in downtown Bucharest to the Wiesel Institute for use as a museum.

The Wiesel Institute has reported cases of local authorities who allowed streets, organizations, schools, and libraries to be named after persons convicted of Holocaust-related war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Most public history museums do not include information on the country’s Holocaust history in their permanent exhibitions, and exhibitions at some of these museums praise Ion Antonescu, the pro-Nazi dictator who governed Romania from 1940 to 1944 and, after the war, was convicted of war crimes and executed.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Romanian and foreign citizens who were persecuted based on ethnic or religious criteria between 1940 and 1945 are entitled to a monthly pension.  The amount of the pension varies, depending on the type and length of persecution endured.  A law that went into effect in July 2019 allows Holocaust survivors who reside in foreign countries and are eligible for compensation in Romania to prove that they were victims of racial and ethnic persecution based on official documents released by institutions of the country of residence.  The law also exempts Holocaust survivors residing in foreign countries from physically submitting their applications for compensation at the pension offices in Romania and allows them to use other means of communication in order to apply.  For survivors who left at a young age and do not speak Romanian, submission of the application and additional documents in Romanian creates barriers.  Roma survivors have also experienced challenges.  Historians and Roma civil activists reported that a significant proportion of the remaining Roma survivors who applied for pensions were denied because of administrative barriers and requirements.

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