“As part of discussion of the legislative initiative of goodwill compensation, it should be stressed that this is an issue that cannot be viewed in the context of denationalisation of property and restoration of specific property rights. Goodwill compensation is a special solution for a special historical situation.
After the Soviet occupation of Latvia, all inhabitants of Latvia were losing their property, not to mention the human tragedies of wartime and occupation that affected Latvian families irrespective of their nationality. Today’s Communist genocide victim commemorative events are an unmistakable reminder of that.
After the restoration of independence, historical justice, at least in terms of property rights, could be restored by the Law on Denationalisation and the Law on the Return of Property to Religious Organisations.
Unfortunately, the Jewish community could not take full advantage of the possibilities provided for by the law, because the Latvian Jewish community was almost completely destroyed during the Holocaust – out of the 93 thousand Jews who lived in Latvia in 1940, the Nazis destroyed 75 thousand. After the restoration of independence, the Latvian state took over hundreds of properties previously owned by the Jewish people and community; but the owners of those properties, as well as absolutely all of their heirs, were killed during the Holocaust.
It should be emphasised that as a result of this draft law, the Latvian state or taxpayers will not lose anything – the Latvian state actually only transfers to the Jewish community part of the value of the property that the state took over during the restoration of independence. No other or new value created by the Latvian state or people will be transferred within the scope of this compensation.
It should also be noted that the restoration of historical justice with similar goodwill initiatives has taken place in many European countries, including Lithuania and Estonia. On the international stage, such compensation is provided for by the so-called Terezin Declaration, signed in 2009 by 47 countries including Latvia.
The draft law in question concerns more than three hundred properties or parts thereof. Many of these properties currently have new owners who have acquired them from the Latvian state completely legally and these properties had been taken care of and maintained by them over the years. The draft law does not provide for any new alienation of property – it provides for compensation amounting to partial cadastral value of these properties, which is certainly much lower than the market value of the property,” says Dmitry Krupnikov, Member of the Board of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia.
Member of the Board of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia