Romanian Parliament Approves Expediting Holocaust Claims

Some 40,000 claims were filed before 2003 deadline but have yet to be processed.

Rabbis taking a break from the reburial remains of Holocaust victims found in a mass grave in northern Romania, at the Jewish cemetery in Iasi, Romania, Monday, April 4, 2011.

The Romanian parliament on Tuesday passed legislation to expedite property claims that Holocaust victims and the Romanian Jewish community file, The World Jewish Restitution Organization announced.

The restitution organization also noted that the legislation enjoyed support across the political spectrum.

According to the NGO, it had negotiated with the Romanian government over the past year to speed up the processing of over 40,000 claims filed before a 2003 deadline that have been languishing in bureaucracy.

"This law acknowledges the urgent needs of Romanian Holocaust survivors, who have waited too long to have their property claims resolved,” said Gideon Taylor, the chairman of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization. “It also ensures that all pre-Holocaust Jewish organizations are recognized as integral parts of the vibrant pre-War Jewish life in Romania and that property that once belonged to them is returned to the Jewish community. We look forward to working with the Romanian government to ensure swift implementation of this legislation.”

“In the past three months, Romania, Serbia, and Latvia have each passed important restitution laws,” added Taylor. “There is momentum building as countries recognize the urgency of providing restitution during the lifetime of survivors. We encourage other countries to act now.”

The NGO noted that the new law resolves other issues regarding Jewish property claims. They include some 55 Jewish communal properties, like schools and burial societies, the had been taken away from the pre-Holocaust community, as well as some 40 properties that the Communist regime ruling Romania had forced the community to "donate."