The move comes in light of the legislation that would exclude all non-first-line-heirs from seeking potential inheritance, which is expected to pass soon.
All potential heirs must prepare paperwork proving their ancestors in Poland had property which had been nationalized, which would allow them to receive a percentage of the property’s value.
Attorneys in Poland say that this is the last opportunity for the descendants to claim restitutions since the law on the issue is frozen and not being promoted due to the political climate in the country.
The procedure could also be made possible by adopting Polish citizenship. A Polish EU passport could be issued when a birth certificate or a military or civil document proving the ancestors’ Polish citizenship is provided.
The lawyers claim that the general public in Israel might not be fully aware of their rights when it comes to the issue.
Poland’s biggest privatization law has been heavily criticized not only in Israel but in Poland as well.
On the surface, it appears the law is intended to ease the process, for private owners or their families, of either retrieving the property or receiving financial compensation for property which had been nationalized.
However, behind the rhetoric lies an attempt to minimize the number of potential heirs. For instance, the law does not include compensation to legal heirs of most landowners before the war, among them hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews who left Poland for either Israel or the US because of the war, lost their Polish citizenship in the Holocaust and left behind a lot of valuable property.
The draft legislation would only make it possible to claim restitutions for current Polish citizens whose property had been confiscated by the Communist government. This prevents most survivors from filing claims since they left the country before or during the Holocaust.
The law does say the descendants would also be able to file claims however only the first and second generation.
Following the publication of the draft legislation nearly 10 months ago, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) expressed its "profound disappointment" and called on the Polish government to ensure that fair and just legislation would be implemented.
Patrick Ryszewski, an attorney from JGBS BIERNAT & PARTNERS—a Polish law firm that specializes in Warsaw real estate, explains “We need the Israeli plaintiffs to provide us the documents which show that their family members were Polish citizens, then we’ll be able to speed up the process.”
He added that “the main part is collecting the relevant documents to prove the ownership of the property.”
In addition, those who are eligible to file a claim as part of different post-war treaties signed between Poland and other countries, would not be able to do so under the bill proposal.
The bill also says that the survivors would not be able to file a claim if the property they owned was through company shares. From the moment the law passes, a claim must be filed within a year before the government takes control of the Finance Ministry.
“We’re putting in place different, relevant procedures in order to approve Polish citizenships, including institutions documenting talks with the family members and presenting them in front of relevant Polish authorities until the citizenship is granted," Ryszewski added.