Poland Loses War Property Restitution Case /WEB SITE
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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 has more.
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 he 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 payers.�
Oskar Chomicki from the Poland in Europe Foundation welcomes the court ruling.
�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.
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