03 March 2021 Time to read: 4 mins

Luxembourg signs agreement on Outstanding Holocaust Asset Issues

On 27 January, Luxembourg signed an agreement  with the Jewish Consistory of Luxembourg (Consistoire Israélite de Luxembourg) on outstanding Holocaust asset issues. The signatories were the Prime Minister, Mr. Xavier Bettel, and the President of the Jewish Consistory, Mr. Albert Aflalo, while the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah acted as co-signatories.

The aim of the agreement was to find a settlement to all outstanding Holocaust asset issues. In an interview with the main Luxembourg newspaper, the President of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah, Mr. François Moyse, referred also to the chairmanship of IHRA, which Luxembourg held from March 2019 to March 2020 and which had greatly contributed to the dynamic of the negotiations. The negotiations had started soon after the country had taken over the presidency.

The main elements of the agreement are:

  • The Luxembourg Government will provide a lump sum of 1 million Euro to the various categories of survivors, whether they live in the country or abroad. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany will be in charge of the distribution of the money made available. For the first time, all Jews having lived in the Grand-Duchy at the moment of the invasion of the country by Nazi Germany on 10 May 1940 will benefit from this fund, whether they held Luxembourg citizenship, were third-state nationals, or were stateless. In 1940 some 4000 Jews lived in Luxembourg; some 75% did not have Luxembourg citizenship. Around one third of these Jewish residents perished in the Holocaust.
  • The State will over a period of 30 years make an annual contribution to the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah. The Foundation was created in June 2018 by the Luxembourg Government and the Jewish Consistory and is based at the Villa Pauly, the former headquarters of the Gestapo in Luxembourg City during WWII. All questions relating to the Shoah are part of the mission of the Foundation: remembrance, commissioning of  studies in relation to the persecution of the Jews during the occupation, research, preservation of memorial sites, education, organization of memorial events and conferences. The idea of creating such a Foundation was first formulated in a 2009 Report drafted by a Special Commission in charge of studying the spoliation of Jewish assets during WWII.
  • One article deals with the acquisition and the renovation of the Monastery of Cinqfontaines in the Luxembourg Ardennes. In December 2020, the state bought the impressive building from the Congregation of the Friars of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Nazis had expelled the monks and transformed the monastery into a camp for Jewish women, sick and  elderly people and children. Between October 1941 and June 1943 more than 300 Jews were brought from Cinqfontaines to the extermination camps. Very few survived. The building will be restored and adapted to its new function as educational and commemorative center.
  • Over the next five years, a total of 2 million Euro will be provided by the State in order to stimulate research on Jewish life in Luxembourg and various aspects related to the persecution of Jewish residents during the time of the occupation.
  • The working group on dormant bank accounts will continue its work according to the action plan laid down in the Agreement. Identified dormant accounts will  be returned to the owners or their heirs, while assets whose owner or heir cannot be identified, will be transferred to the Foundation. The same procedure will apply when it comes to dealing with unpaid Holocaust-era insurance.
  • The principles of the 1988 Washington Conference on Nazi-confiscated Art and the Terezin Declaration of 2009 will guide the provenance research on works of art and other looted cultural property.

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