'It's time for justice': Canadian Holocaust survivors seek restitution
Published Thursday, June 11, 2015 8:24AM EDT
More than 70 years after the Second World War, diplomatic efforts are underway in Ottawa to reclaim property stolen from Jews during the Holocaust in Europe.
A delegation from The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the World Jewish Restitution Organization are meeting with ambassadors from several countries, including Hungary, Bosnia, and Romania, with the goal of reclaiming property confiscated by the Nazis.
Approximately six million Jews died at the hands of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 40s. Those who survived were stripped of their homes, businesses, and possessions.
Richard Marceau, a senior government advisor for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, says it’s “time for justice to be restored” for survivors, many of whom lost family members and other loved ones during the Nazis’ horrific reign.
Marceau said many survivors came to Canada to rebuild their lives after the war, but not all succeeded.
Now, as the survivors are getting older, there is a “very intensive diplomatic push” with European countries responsible for matters relating to Holocaust restitution.
“At the end of their lives, after many of them living in poverty, the least we can do for them is to make sure they can finish their days in dignity and get back what is rightfully theirs,” Marceau told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.
Marceau said some countries have not implemented restitution processes, despite signing the Terezin Declaration in 2009, committing their governments to compensation.
“So basically we're meeting with European countries to say, ‘You signed up to do this, you’ve committed yourself to do this, it’s now time to do this,” he said.
In March, all three major Canadian federal political parties endorsed an initiative to accelerate restitution of Holocaust-era property in Europe to its rightful owners.
Advocates are “fortunate” to have the support from the Conservative government, as well as NDP and Liberal parties, Marceau said.
“So there’s a message we’re carrying to these embassies that it’s not only a Jewish concern,” he said. “It’s also a concern and a point of view that is supported by all political classes in Canada.”