The nonprofit NGO “CEDEK” was registered during 2004 in Zagreb, Croatia as the reaction to the absence of the restitution of the private Jewish confiscated property in the Republic of Croatia.
Nowadays in 2016, namely 26 years after the first democratic elections in Croatia we have to state with dismay that beside the occasional declarations on account of the issue of the confiscated Jewish property, nothing has changed in these period of 26 years.
The Jewish property has still not been restituted to the real owners or their legitimate heirs. Thus, all the Governments since 1990 promised this restitution, but there was always some argument found as for not solving this problem. In the first period it was the predatory proprietary transformation of the so called “common property”, or the privatization of the state owned property, then the selling of originally ravished flats to the present tenants, until the assertion that the land cannot be restituted to the original owners due to “higher state reasons”…
The first Croatian President, Mr. Franjo Tudjman has written a letter to Mr. Tommy Beer, President of B’nai B’rith International, on the bygone 1992, where he stated that the properties in Croatia had been restituted to Jews. The second Croatian President, Mr. Stjepan Mesic has declared, during his visit to the USA and after being hosted within the biggest Jewish organizations, that he shall personally engage himself for the fair restitution to the original owners of all Jewish properties. The onetime Parliament President, Mr. Vladimir Seks has told Mr. Schmule Merome, Jewish ambassador, that the “Law on the property restitution of the confiscated property during the Jugoslav communist regime”, which is in power, already contains the restitution of Jewish property but in a secluded form.
This mentioned restitution Law doesn’t include at all the restitution of the confiscated property during 1941-1945. On the contrary, many usurpers of the Jewish property during the period of 1941-1945, have solved their claims in accordance with the restitution Law and thus “finally” what had been looted became the property of the looters or their heirs. Accordingly these original looters succeeded in legitimizing the “return in nature” what was looted in blood.
Today, with Croatia as a regular member of the European Union, there is a serious need for the revision of the Croatian restitution Law.
With the revision of the mentioned law, the Jewish property must be given back to the real (original) owners or their heirs, taking into account the date: “10.04.1941”, as the starting date of the criminal and unjust confiscation. The revision must call for the solution that all the already realized sellings, acts, and laws which have been issued since that date and concern the Jewish property must be canceled. The property must be given back to the original owners and their heirs, preferably in the form of natural restitution, and only extremely in money and state bonds, and then accordingly to the market value. Here, we must stress the problem of the property that is without heirs – which property is represented by the WJRO and who has the only right, in agreement with local Jewish communities, to get into agreement with the State.
With the Proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH – Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) race laws were promptly institutionalized with the scope of erasing the Jewish population, and parallel to this goal the robbery of total Jewish assets were realized. The property was taken away from private persons and sold next to nothing to members of Ustasha movement.
With the promulgation of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the establishment of communist regime all the assets from the period of NDH was confiscated. With the property without heirs these assets were formally restituted for the duration of one day and then confiscated again.
The Yugoslav Jewish population obtained the option to immigrate to Israel under the condition to renounce the ownership of all their property on the territory of Yugoslavia and in the same time renouncement of the citizenship of Yugoslavia.
The communist government issued the law of nationalization of private property – thus everything that remained in private possession was taken away.
In the course of the first democratic elections every political party, taking part in the elections, was in favor of the restitution of properties to original owners.
The transformation of state owned property was realized in accordance with the issued law; but the transformation of this property and final privatization of factories and companies was realized on the originally confiscated properties as well.
The law on compensation for the confiscated properties was issued, and which is in power today with some minor changes, allows the selling of confiscated properties such as parts of houses, flats, etc., to the actual holders of these properties.
Changes of the Law, enabled foreign citizens to apply for the compensation but with a term of six months for registering their interest.
The Law didn’t change, while the praxis in solving the applications only deteriorated – when the decision of the authorized office is eventually reached, then regularly the State Attorney plea is issued while the ending of the procedure is “lost in the darkness of bureaucratic boxes” …