LUXEMBOURG: Luxembourg marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday by signing an “historic” agreement to provide financial compensation for the confiscation of property from Jews during World War II.
The accord with Jewish groups will see the government pay one million euros ($1.2 million) to survivors and descendants of those deported from the Grand Duchy during the Holocaust, and commit millions more to a memorial and research.
“This is an event of profound importance,” Gideon Taylor, of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, told AFP. Luxembourg, wedged between Germany, France and Belgium, has faced criticism for being one of the slowest countries in Western Europe in resolving the issue of compensation for Jews.
The signing was the latest move by the liberal government of Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to come to terms with the events of over 75 years ago after it apologised in 2015 to the Jewish community for its “suffering” during Nazi occupation.
“The agreement provides answers to all unresolved questions in connection with the confiscation of Jewish property linked to the Holocaust,” an official statement said. It will also see the authorities spend 25 million euros turning a monastery used to help transport Jews to the concentration camps into a memorial and education centre and pump two million euros into Holocaust research.
Until now, the restitution of property looted during the war had come up against a law from 1950 which reserved compensation to nationals only, effectively excluding some 75 percent of the Jews who lived in Luxembourg before the Nazi invasion of May 10, 1940.
A report commissioned by the government in 2000 said there were 3,900 Jews living in the country when it was taken over, but most were refugees from Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria who were considered stateless.