Jewish property in Kazimierz – Krakow, Poland is a curious thing. I live in Krakow, Poland or more precisely in Podgorze in what was the Jewish ghetto during the war. Many people ask me why so many of the homes in Kazimierz, which is just across the river from me are in such a state of disrepair. It is as if no one was repaired this property in fifty years. The truth is they have not. What happened was the Germans forcibly removed the peaceful Jews of Kazimierz to Podgorze in a small ghetto. The Jewish property that was left behind by the Jews, was abandon property. After the war, Poland had a communist state, and the communist government just stuck families into tight quarters in the old Jewish houses in Kazimierz, and their they remained. Few if any Polish Jews survived in Poland, if they did they escaped. After the Poles brought down communism Poland passed a law that allowed for restitution of Jewish property in Poland and in Krakow of course.
Jewish property in Krakow – an American perspective
As an American in Krakow, I have to say the Polish government and people has extended very warm greetings to the Jews visiting and seeking restitution. Many Poles are very curious about Jewish culture and history. My perspective is the Jews lived in Poland for over 500 years, and they were Polish.
What seems to be going on now is this. Poland has an open law that Jewish owners can reclaim their property if they want to go through a lot of paperwork in the Polish courts. Many descendants of the owners have not bothered. Therefore, the situation is many Poles live in these houses still, as their families have for over 50 years, however, they have deemed it unwise to put money into a major repair of their flat, because at any moment an owner from the 1930s could appear a reclaim what in title is theirs. This has happened. People invest their hard earned savings in the property they live in and then they lose it in court.
This is neither the Jews nor the Poles fault. They both were robbed by the Germans (political movement not people) 50 plus years ago. It was caused by the German forced displacement of people during the war. This is why if you ever go through Jewish Krakow, you will see a lot of property in disrepair. If you have questions about Poland, Krakow, Jewish or Polish history, just ask. I live in the center of Krakow and this history.
It is very unfair to the Jews this happened, they brought so much to Poland and the synergy between the Poles and Jews made it a remarkable place. It was very unfair to the Poles their country was destroyed. The war made so many suffer.
I think at this juncture most of the statue of limitations have expired on that property. I am not a lawyer or an expert but I think at this point it is very hard to get real estate back. I have been looking for a lawyer I could trust to recommend people to, however, I think the only ones who win are the lawyers. I think it would cost more money in legal fees etc than the abandon parcel of land is worth. Maybe I am wrong. If anyone has any further information please let me know.