Yisroel Schulman, executive director of the New York Legal Assistance Group,
announced in Strasbourg, France, today (Feb. 9) the filing of a case at the
headquarters of the European
Court of Human Rights to compel Poland to
pay restitution to Holocaust victims whose properties were confiscated by the
post-World War II Polish government.
Lead plaintiff in the case is Henryk Pikielny, whose grandfather was the founder
in 1889 in Lodz of the Pikielny
textile factory—a manufacturer of fabrics for women's clothes that was seized
by the Nazis during World War II and later operated under a Communist-appointed
authority, according to Schulman.
After the collapse of the Communist regime in 1990, Pikielny attempted to
reclaim his family's properties or receive compensation, but was denied by
Polish courts after a 14-year-legal battle. He now will seek redress from
the European Court of Human Rights, which was created by an agreement to which
Poland is a signatory.
"There are literally thousands like the Pikielny family who have been
unable to receive fair treatment within the Polish legal system," according
to Phyllis Brochstein, a NYLAG attorney. "For many of these
survivors, bringing this case before the ECHR is a last chance for urgently
Yehuda Evron, president of the U.S. Division of the Holocaust Restitution
Committee, an organization representing some 3,000 Polish Holocaust survivors,
commented in conjunction with the filing of the suit: "The atrocities of
the Holocaust can never be measured in terms of dollars. After so many years of
being ignored by successive Polish governments, we are simply seeking some small
measure of justice."
Shulman said that "while many other European countries have acknowledged
their role in the Holocaust by enacting legislation or adopting other measures,
Poland has yet to address this issue. For elderly Holocaust survivors who
have waited decades for their cases to be fairly heard by the Polish legal
system, justice delayed is truly justice denied. —Donald