Jewish property Krakow

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.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

19 thoughts on “Jewish property Krakow”

  1. A Dzięki, Most of Krakow is amazing. The city looks better than many or most cities back home in the States for sure. But I was just explaining why some buildings in Krakow are in disrepair. Further this can even add to the rustic, non commercial feel of the city. I deleted your comment about Jewish Property in Krakow because I had to figure out who to display Polish fonts better on my blog. Sorry. I cleaned it up and then you can repost to Jewish Property in Krakow.

  2. Hi,
    I would appreciate a recommendation of a serious dedicated law firm in Krakow to help me with the retrieval of Jewish property in the area of Krakow.

    1. Oren, I can. I know a few people and will look into this for you and only someone trusted.

  3. I am in need of a trust lawyer that speaks English.

    1. I think if you are a property lawyer in Poland, you are trustworthy.

  4. Did you hear of a new Polish law that limits the value available to Inheritors to 20% of the actual value?

    This applies to buildings ceased by the
    Miasto of Krakow Regards YR

    1. I do not know if that is true. Where did you see that? Maybe but I doubt it.
      Poland and many people who live here, have for many years been trying to find owners for Jewish property and many units sit empty. However, in the 1990s many units were claimed. In the last 10 years also. Now at this time, there are almost no apartments that have not been claimed by Jewish owners. I really do not see any in Krakow. For 20 years people, searched high and low and most of the owners were found, if for no other reason, but for monetary motives. Lawyers ad search firms where hired for 20 years. Everything was picked through, even the building I live in.
      There may be a property or two unclaimed but the real boom was in the early 1990s for finding Jewish property.
      I think it would be unfair if that law existed and I am skeptical if it does.
      There is a real interest in Jewish culture in Krakow and Poland. Poland has been trying to welcome back Jews and Israeli tourists and many students and people have a real interest in Jewish culture and warm feelings.
      I know a few lawyers who used to actively help Jewish people reconnect with properties I could ask them about this law, but I doubt it, but interesting to know.

  5. As a property lawyer based in Krakow I can clearly state that there’s been a great number of properties which were given back to the Jewish owners (thier succesors) on the basis of court order. In most cases the courts ruled in favour of the owners as the communist regime in many occasions did not follow the laws established by itself.
    There are few properties to be claimed back at the momemnt but surely there are more than two or three. We roughly estimate it is around 300 properties

    1. The communist regime did not follow proper law and you are right most Jewish owners do get their property back if they go through the proper legal channels. They basically just have to get a lawyer in Krakow.
      I think the 1990s was a huge opportunity for this. However, in 2011 there are not as many properties that are unclaimed in Krakow as the last 20 years people looked through this.
      300 is actually lower than I thought, but maybe that is about right.

  6. I would really appreciate a good recommendation about an honest, professional, effective lawyer to help my father, a Holocaust survivor, reclaim his family home in a small town north-east of Krakow.

    1. A few years ago I knew a number personally but lost contact with these people. In fact, I am looking myself and can let you know when I find one. The US embassy ussually a god place to start and if not the UK embassy in my experience is better to be frank.

  7. My grandfather was from Wysowa Poland. His family sent him to the USA before the war broke out. His family owned a large amount of land and was the Mayor of the town. From what my father has told me my grandfrather’s whole family were killed in the war. How do I go about finding out if I have any rights to my Grandfather’s family property?

    Thank you,


    1. The easiest way is get a lawyer in the town or city near by. Most educated people speak English. You can do a search in the region and call some Adwokat can speak English. Many specializes in this. But the property would have had to be taken illegally from them because of the war, such as connected with Jewish issues. If it was just a matter of inheritance you might have some rights, but it need a lawyer to help you. You can simply go to the town hall and they will have all the land records and will tell you exactly who has it and why, but you will need to have someone help you with Polish.

    2. Judy,

      My family was from Wysowa too.

      My last name here is Sicilian, not the Wysowa families names. We were there for 500 years.

      I’d like to compare notes.

      Thank you.


      1. Because I want to respect people’s privacy I do not post email addresses on line. However, if you both contact me I can connect you.

  8. I am in need of a lawyer who handles such cases of restitution of Jewish property by the poles. I am the son of a holocaust survivor who had property on ulitza Sharoka 13 in Krakow, Poland. My mom had past away in 2008 and left the job of restitution of her house to me. Please reply with any assistance such that I can get my house back.

    1. Dear Abe,
      If you are still looking for a lawyer dealing with such cases in Kraków, please send me a message. Kind regards, Anna

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