Latvian Saeima supports Jewish compensation bill

Saeima on January 6 in the second reading supported the bill on good will compensation to the Jewish community for properties lost during the Holocaust worth EUR 40 million to be paid in ten years.

The bill was harshly criticized by the National Alliance lawmakers within the ruling government coalition, most, but not all, of whose members who voted against it, along with several independent lawmakers. The bill was passed by 62 votes to 18 with another 17 deputies choosing not to vote on the matter at all.

A number of proposals were submitted to the bill, for example, to pay compensations to all communities in Latvia, not only the Jewish community, but these proposals were rejected.

The bill still has to be passed by the parliament in the final reading.

The bill states that private properties were nationalized in Latvia during the Nazi occupation of Latvia. In turn, the Nazi regime implemented the Holocaust and almost completely destroyed an integral part of Latvia's society - the Jewish community. During the Holocaust, Jewish residents, their children, and those who worked at Jewish public and religious organizations were exterminated, the bill emphasizes.

The legislation says that the Latvian state is not responsible for the Holocaust during the occupation of Latvia, as a result of which several historical Jewish religious and community organizations have no successors, and neither is the state of Latvia responsible for the actions of the Soviet occupation regime.

During the Holocaust, 90 percent of Latvian's pre-war Jewish community was destroyed, which prevented the Latvian Jewish community from fully recovering the property it owned on June 16, 1940. These properties have become property of the Latvian state. The compensation provided for in the legislation is Latvia's goodwill compensation for this unrecovered property.

The purpose of the law is to restore justice and provide support for the Latvian Jewish community by compensating in good faith the cadastral value of property not recovered by the community, in order to eliminate the historical consequences of the Holocaust by the Nazi totalitarian regime and the Soviet totalitarian regime's actions.

According to the bill, EUR 4 million will be paid from the state budget annually from 2023 through 2032. The amount is calculated according to the cadastral value of the property owned by the Jewish community on June 16, 1940, which has not been returned to the community, and the cadastral value of which was approximately EUR 47.8 million on December 31, 2018.

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