The Role of Law in Enabling Postgenocide Recovery: Assessing the Importance of Property Restitution
48 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2020 Last revised: 12 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 10, 2020
This chapter assesses the importance of restitution and compensation in the post-Holocaust setting. While Holocaust survivors and their heirs have worked towards achieving some degree of property restitution from Germany and other actors complicit in the crimes, obtaining restitution for other genocide victim groups has been a challenge. None have been able to replicate the success of the Holocaust restitution movement. Whether any restitution occurs at all appears to depend on a variety of factors, discussed in this chapter, which in turn suggests that there is no uniform application of law.
Yet, since the Holocaust, international and domestic law have increasingly required compensation for the victims of mass atrocities. Without recognition and redress for the staggering amounts of property typically lost or stolen in a genocide, the reconciliation that allows survivor groups to not only acknowledge the past but transcend it—transforming loss, pain, and anger into new growth—will remain frustratingly slow, even elusive. Law is thus a crucial instrument in the toolkit of postgenocide responses.
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