“Half of the cases of the spoliation of Jewish property in France remain uneducated to this day”

Tribune. “The State is the sole debtor of material spoliations, in recognition of its responsibility towards the deported Jews from France”, indicated, in November 2001, the first activity report of the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliations Occurring as a result of anti-Semitic legislation in force during the Occupation (CIVS).

Created in 1999 in the wake of Jacques Chirac’s speech of July 16, 1995 recognizing France’s responsibility for the deportation of Jews from France, the CIVS has enabled nearly 19,700 claimants to obtain compensation or restitution from the State. title of the economic persecutions endured by the Jews in France.

If this request system had a great impact when it was launched, it has shown a marked slowdown in its activity in recent years, which is explained by the scarcity of individual requests addressed to it. However, half of the spoliation files in France (estimated at nearly 50,000 in total) remain to this day unreported. How to explain it?

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Asking for reparation implies that the victims are still alive or that their beneficiaries are aware of the existence of an economic plunder suffered by their ancestor. However, the difficult intra-family transmission of the hardships of the Occupation, mentioned by the historian Simon Perego, has often forced the following generations to live in total ignorance of the family past, which has sometimes become taboo.

Dozens of restored works of art

Research into the spoliation of the leaders of modest Israelite funeral directors in Paris shows the tragic chain that for some led them, helpless and frightened, from spoliation to deportation, sometimes even going through prison for n ‘ not having obeyed French anti-Jewish laws.

Others were able to survive, but without being able to recount the difficulties encountered or to seek redress. By giving back what is due to them, the CIVS initiates the memorial process that allows these battered families to be restored to a part of their history that they ignore.

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At the same time as the decline in requests for material reparations has been taking place, in recent years we have witnessed the rise of a new type of reparation affecting the theft of cultural property. A new Mission for the search and restitution of cultural property looted between 1933 and 1945 was thus created in 2019 in France under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture.

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