The Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia embraces the fact that during the third and final reading, the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia has passed the legislation on restitution of five real estate properties to the Jewish Community of Latvia. Those buildings and land plots belonged to the Jewish communal organisations of Latvia until the 1940. Later, this property was involuntary and without any remuneration nationalised by Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes. After the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia, those real estate properties became the property of the Republic of Latvia.
“It is a very important step towards the restoration of the historical and human justice, and more steps must follow this one,” notes Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia Arkady Suharenko. “Such decisions allow us to finally turn the tragic pages of the past, making them a history. I firmly believe that we should continue to act the same way as the deputies of Saeima did this time – responsibly and with dignity, keeping in mind the reputation of our country.
Many times, while lecturing in front of various audiences, I have emphasised that the state is not responsible for the genocide of Jewish citizens during the war because during that time, the Republic of Latvia was occupied, and the blame for the tragedy of the Jewish community rests on the Nazis and their voluntary accomplices. At the same time, in particular due to the consequences of the Holocaust, up until now the Jewish community was not able to restore its right for the property, which belonged to the community and its members before the war.
This exceptional situation required an exceptional approach. For years, we have been explaining our viewpoint on this matter to the society, disputing with politicians, engaging in a dialogue with the state, and now we feel satisfaction from the fact that such worthy and rightful decision has been made. On behalf of all of Latvian Jews, I thank all those politicians and deputies of Saeima, who facilitated this decision, as well as those who voted for it, demonstrating their political willpower and human courage,” says Arkady Suharenko, “I am certain that the decision made by Saeima will consolidate our country and society, as well as contribute to unification and prosperity of the Republic of Latvia.”
As it was reported previously, in order to manage and use the returned property, the Council of Jewish Communities establishes a special Fund. “All the money received by the Fund, including the income from operation of the real estate, will be used within the territory of the Republic of Latvia – it will be used openly and transparently,” emphasizes A. Suharenko, “The money will be mainly used on preservation of cultural heritage, the communal museum, study and popularisation of Jewish traditions, memorial programmes, upkeep of cemeteries and sacral objects, charity programmes, development of education, and support for young people.”
It is planned for the Board of the Fund to consist of 11 members: six members will represent the Jewish organisations of Latvia and five other members – international Jewish organisations. In order to monitor the activity of the Fund, a representative of the Latvian government will be invited to permanently join the Board.