Terezin Declaration

The Terezin Declaration is a non-binding declaration that issued by 47 countries[a] in June 2009, agreeing on measures to right economic wrongs that accompanied the Holocaust against the Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution in Europe. It is neither a treaty nor legally binding international agreement[1] The Holocaust Era Assets Conference took place in Terezín, Czech Republic, the site of the Theresienstadt Ghetto.[2][3] A year later 43 of the signatories (excluding Belarus, Malta, Russia and Poland) endorsed a companion document, the 2010 Guidelines and Best Practices for the Restitution and Compensation of Immovable (Real) Property, which set best practices for immovable property. According to the guidelines restitution of the property itself (in rem) is preferred, however when that is not possible payment or substitute property that is "genuinely fair and adequate" is possible.[2][4] The declaration has no legal power and doesn't define how countries involved should act to fulfill it.[5]

During the Holocaust, plunder of Jewish property took place in an organized manner and on a comprehensive scale. Following the war, while some Jews received their property back, this tended to be the exception. People who held on to plundered property considered it their own and resented survivors who came back to claim their property. While many countries passed laws on restitution, in many case these were in effect in name only, and in Eastern Europe were often in effect only for a few years. The Terezin declaration was passed in 2009 as a result of what US ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat termed "the unfinished business of World War II".[4]

In addition to restitution to survivors and heirs, the Terezin Declaration states that in some states heirless property (which devolved to the state) could serve as a basis for addressing the material necessities of needy Holocaust (Shoah) survivors and to ensure ongoing education about the Holocaust, its causes and consequences.[4][6]

The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017, requires the United States Department of State to report to Congress on steps that the signatories of the Terezin Declaration have taken to compensate Holocaust survivors and their heirs for assets seized by Nazi Germany and post-war communist governments.[7][8]


  1. ^ 46 countries signed in 2009, and in addition Serbia attended the conference as an observer but later ratified the declaration


  1. ^ Although not a treaty or legally binding international agreement, the Terezin Declaration that resulted from the Prague Conference is a remarkable document The Holocaust-Era Assets Conference in Prague and Its Outcome Julius Berman Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs Volume 4, 2010 - Issue 2
  2. ^ a b Carla Ferstman; Alexander Goldberg; Tony Gray; Liz Ison; Richard Nathan; Michael Newman, eds. (2019). Contemporary Human Rights Challenges: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Continuing Relevance. Taylor & Francis/Routledge. p. 113. ISBN 9780815364634. LCCN 2018021161.
  3. ^ Alessandro Chechi (2014). The Settlement of International Cultural Heritage Disputes. Oxford University Press. p. 181.
  4. ^ a b c Searching for Justice After the Holocaust: Fulfilling the Terezin Declaration and Immovable Property Restitution. Oxford University Press. 2019. pp. xxxiii–xxxvi. ISBN 9780190923068. LCCN 2018019063.
  5. ^ Witold Jurasz: Ustawa 447, czy miedzy panika a chowaniem glowy w piasek Onet.pl 16 May 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  6. ^ Terazin Declaration
  7. ^ "Trump signs Holocaust property law that has angered Poland". Times of Israel. AP. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  8. ^ Wilner, Michael (10 May 2018). "Trump Signs Act Strengthening Holocaust Restitution Efforts". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 December 2019.

Further reading