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Luxembourg Signs Historic Restitution Agreement, Pledges €1m to Holocaust Survivors

Published Friday January 29 2021

On Wednesday 27 January 2021, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Luxembourg government and the Jewish Consistory of Luxembourg signed a restitution agreement linked to unresolved issues in the context of the spoliation of Jewish property during the Shoah (also known as the Holocaust).

This agreement was signed by the government, represented by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna, on the one hand and the Jewish Consistory of Luxembourg, represented by President Albert Aflalo, on the other. Dimitri Dombret, European representative of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), and François Moyse, President of the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, were co-signatories.

The agreement includes €1 million in direct support for survivors of the Shoah, as well as an annual budget of €120,000 over a 30-year period for the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. The latter will also be tasked with additional missions such as supporting Jewish historical heritage sites that have a link with the history of the Second World War.

In addition, the Luxembourg state has agreed to acquire the Abbey of Cinqfontaines, which was used as a deportation site during the Second World War, and convert it into a commemorative educational centre.

The agreement also foresees an increase in the annual budget of the Committee for the Remembrance of the Second World War, as well as the implementation of a research budget of €2 million to be devoted to three components: independent university research, the search for provenance and work facilitating access to the National Archives.

The government and the Jewish Consistory will draw up a national strategy to combat anti-Semitism and three working groups will continue their work or will be set up. The first working group will aim to identify and restore, if necessary, dormant bank accounts. An identical working group will be set up for insurance. A third working group will be created for works of art and other cultural goods.

Luxembourg's government pointed out that this agreement was the logical continuation and culmination of decisions taken over the last few years. Whilst the agreement is aimed at honouring the victims and historical facts from over 75 years ago, the majority of measures concern the present and the future.

In a press release, the United States Embassy in Luxembourg congratulated Luxembourg for signing this agreement, pointing out that it had provided strong support to Luxembourg’s working group over the last two years to find such an agreement. The embassy stated: "With this historic agreement, Luxembourg demonstrates its leadership and sets an example for other countries".