Saw this on another site, naturally thought it would be of interest...
Poland Loses War Property Restitution Case
From Radio Polonia
Poland has lost a lawsuit filed at the Human Rights Tribunal in
Starsbourg by a man who demanded compensation for property left on
former Polish eastern territories which became a part of the Soviet
Union after World War Two. This is an unprecedented decision, which
is certain to trigger more compensation claims. Krystyna Kolosowska
In the 1940s the family of Jerzy Broniowski was forced to leave their
home in Lvov, at the heart of the eastern Polish territory, which was
taken over by the Soviet Union following a revision of borders
dictated by Stalin.Broniowski has for years fought for a just
compensation. He did receive some a small plot of land, which
argued was incomparable with the property left in what is now Ukraine
and which he values at some 500,000 US dollars. Now, with the
decision taken by the Human Rights Tribunal in Strasburg, he and some
80 thousand Poles in his situation, can demand justice. Broniowski's
lawyer Zbigniew Cichon is happy with the court ruling.
`It is an unanimous decision, proving that Poland violated the
European Human Rights Convention. This is a warning for the Polish
government and Parliament.'
Andrzej Korzeniowski, the chairman of an organization grouping people
like Jerzy Broniowski believes that their cause is obvious.
`Why shouldn't we, the creditors of the state, be able to demand the
repayment of the sum owes us, in the same way as the State demands
the payments of debts by its debtors for example wavering tax
Oskar Chomicki from the Poland in Europe Foundation welcomes the
`Well, I think, it's a very important decision because it has been,
for many years that the Polish people from the eastern territories
have been unsuccessfully trying to regain their property or at least
some kind of an equivalent of their property from the Polish
government. Well that involves a general problem of re-privatization
of Polish private property, that is, the property which had been
confiscated by the Communist government after the 2nd World War.'
In Oskar Chomicki's view the ruling of the Tribunal in Strasburg
shouldn't spark off fears that it will be used as a gateway by German
expellees, causing a flood of compensation lawsuits from them.
`It's based probably on quite a different legal basis and, I think,
that problem of ex-German inhabitants of the present Polish Western
territories, that is those who had been expelled from those
territories after the war, had been decided upon by the powers. And
that was an international decision. What is really rather of some
kind of concern, maybe opening some sort of gate, as you said, for
some problems, judicial problems is the situation of those ex-Polish
citizens who had left Poland after 1960. They are about several
hundred thousands of them immigrated to west Germany at that time.
And those people either had sold their property to Poles, or had left
their property, and they can claim some sort of compensation. But
that is another problem. But I don't think that the latest decision
by the Tribunal has any direct relation with that situation.'
A law on compensation for Poles from former Polish eastern
territories was passed last year. But it provides for compensation
for only 15 percent of the property left behind, with the reservation
that the sum must not exceed 50 thousand zlotys, or a little over 12
thousand US dollars.