Latvia’s parliament voted to pay $46 million to the country’s Jewish community for property that was stolen from it during the Holocaust.
The Holocaust restitution law passed last week, yet the law states that the Nazis and the later ruling communists are to blame for the theft. The law mentions the payment as a “goodwill compensation,” which will be paid in annual increments of $4.6 million from the state budget until 2032.
Jewish groups have been lobbying for compensation in Latvia since 1992, yet claims for restitution of private-owned property have been largely denied.
According to Israel’s Holocaust Museum, of the 70,000 Jews who were living in Latvia during the 1941 German invasion, only 200 survived. Similarly to other Eastern European countries, Latvia’s government has rejected claims that the country was partially responsible for the Holocaust. Despite its considerable support for the Nazis during the war, many Latvians believe the country fell victim to Hitler’s occupation.
“Hundreds of Latvians served in special battalions of the Nazis’ SS elite military force. The veterans of that unit hold annual marches in Riga, which are the only SS veteran marches in the world” – reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.