Ludford exposes Czech land scandal

London’s Liberal Democrat Euro-MP, Baroness Sarah Ludford, has today written to the European Commission to protest at the Czech Republic’s laws on land reclamation.

In a letter to Commissioner Verheugen, Baroness Ludford outlined the problem that British descendants of Czech landowners are unable to reclaim the land that was confiscated in the second world war unless the descendants are currently Czech Republic citizens.

The matter was raised with her by a constituent whose uncle was an Austrian citizen living in Prague, and died in Auschwitz as a victim of the Holocaust. Four years after his death, the Uncle’s property was confiscated, but in 1991 new laws were passed allowing restitution or compensation. The three surviving daughters and their children ought therefore to be able to reclaim the property; but the catch is that such benefit is restricted to heirs who have Czech citizenship and live in the Czech Republic.

Commenting on the situation, Baroness Ludford said “This situation is deplorable. The EU treaties specifically state that discrimination on grounds of nationality is not acceptable, yet the Czech Government seem happy to push for EU membership while they ignore the very treaties they wish to sign up to.

“This is a problem that needs urgent attention. The heirs must make their applications to reclaim the property before May 25th 2001, or they will lose out permanently. This must not be allowed to happen. If the Czech Government refuses to bend on this then they are simply punishing the families of holocaust victims, who would otherwise have inherited the property in the traditional way.

“I hope that Commissioner Verheugen reacts quickly and effectively to this situation so that this injustice can be reversed.”