Leaders of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and of the Jewish Community of Luxembourg met on Tuesday with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to discuss efforts to address remaining Holocaust-era property compensation issues.
The delegation was led by U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans and U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Tom Yazdgerdi.
WJRO represents world Jewry in pursuing claims for the recovery of Jewish properties in Europe (outside of Germany and Austria).
According to a WJRO press release, the delegation and prime minister “discussed positive steps taken by Luxembourg regarding Holocaust issues, as well as potential future actions that would address outstanding Holocaust-era asset issues.”
They agreed to form a working group composed of representatives of the government of Luxembourg, the WJRO and the Jewish Community of Luxembourg, which will commence discussions immediately to formulate a process to address these open issues.
The U.S. ambassador said that “the Luxembourg government, under Prime Minister Bettel’s leadership, has taken significant steps to acknowledge and remember how the Holocaust was also carried out in Luxembourg during World War II under Nazi occupation.”
He thanked Bettel for discussing “our shared objective in continuing to allow Jews to seek compensation and restitution from the Holocaust.”
“We pledged to the Luxembourg government, the full support of the United States as it reviews options for compensating victims and restoring access to accounts. We also look forward to Luxembourg’s upcoming chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), where Luxembourg can showcase its leadership on Holocaust issues,” said Evans.
Luxembourg will assume the IHRA chairmanship in March.
Special envoy Yazdgerdi saluted the Luxembourg premier for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and encouraged the Luxembourg government’s continued efforts to resolve open property issues, especially as it accedes to the chairmanship of the IHRA. “We are encouraged by the commitment of the prime minister to this important issue.”
“Prime Minister Bettel has been a leader in acknowledging the suffering of the Jewish community in Luxembourg,” said Gideon Taylor, chair of operations for the World Jewish Organization.
The Jewish Community of Luxembourg said in a statement that “there is great relief that this historical injustice will continue to be faced up to.”
Historical reports commissioned by the government in 2009 and 2015 detailed how the Nazis and their collaborators methodically robbed Jewish people of their every possession. After World War II, about 1,500 Jews returned to Luxembourg. Today, some 1,200 reside in the country.
The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.