Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Albania endorsed the Terezin Declaration in 2009 and the Guidelines and Best Practices in 2010.  The country does not have any restitution or compensation laws relating specifically to Holocaust-era confiscations of private property.  Under the law, religious communities have the same restitution and compensation rights as natural or legal persons.

The Albanian government reported no records of property claims submitted by victims of the Holocaust, and the Department is not aware of any claims by the local Jewish community or American citizens regarding real property dating from the Holocaust era.  However, the Agency for the Treatment of Property faces thousands of claims for private and religious property confiscated during the communist era, which would compound any challenges for victims of the Holocaust.  The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent, constitutional entity that serves as a watchdog over the government, and NGOs noted claimants in general still struggle to obtain due process from the government for property restitution.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art, Judaica, and Jewish Cultural Property

Albania participated in the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets and in the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague, but the country does not have restitution laws in place to cover movable property, nor do its institutions conduct provenance research.  The Department of State has not been made aware of issues regarding movable property.

Access to Archival Documents

The Albanian Archive reported having no property documents for Holocaust victims or their heirs in archival records.  Overall availability and integrity of archival documents are inconsistent.  In 2009, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum concluded a small archival preservation and copying project, which was supported by and made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Albanian government.

There are no reported immovable, movable, or cultural property claims submitted, though if there were, acquiring supporting archival documents would be difficult.  The fear prevalent in Albania during the Communist era caused people to avoid being linked to the ‘wrong’ resistance group, including any groups that might have sheltered Jews, even after the Communist regime collapsed in 1991.  The residual culture of silence from the Communist past partly explains why the rescue of Albanian Jews remained relatively unknown for many decades.  Some survivors could not overcome the difficulty of grappling with a painful past and did not tell their stories.  Albania’s Jewish community is small, and Jewish organizations and their activities are not well known to the general public.  Albanian archives and records contain many inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or gaps, making collection of facts difficult.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

Education on the Holocaust is taught within the context of European history.

The Solomon Museum, Albania’s only Jewish history museum, opened in the city of Berat in 2018 and has a dozen framed panels on the walls bearing photos and stories from 500 years of Jewish life in the country.  There is an exhibit devoted to Albanian Jewish history in Tirana’s national museum.  Additionally, Albania’s current Minister of Culture has discussed establishing a National Museum of Jews in Vlora.

Albania commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and is an observer country of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.  In January 2018, the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs hosted a conference in Tirana titled “We Remember:  Promoting Human Rights through the Lens of Holocaust Education and Remembrance.”  During the remembrance event in January 2017, then‑President Bujar Nishani awarded medals to 35 families and individuals who sheltered Jews during World War II.  On January 29 of the same year, the Anti‑Defamation League presented the Jan Karski “Courage to Care” award to the Albanian people.


Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

The Department of State does not know of any Holocaust-era immovable property claims in Australia.  As Oxford Scholarship Online’s publication, “Searching for Justice After the Holocaust:  Fulfilling the Terezin Declaration and Immovable Property Restitution” notes, “[no] immovable property was confiscated from Jews or other targeted groups in Australia during the war.  As a result, no immovable property restitution laws were required.”

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art

Australia is a signatory to the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art.  The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts reported that it was not aware of a legal framework in the country that specifically relates to the restitution of Holocaust-era property, a view shared by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

However, the country’s Department of Communications and the Arts notes that the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act (2013) provides legal protection for cultural objects on loan from overseas lenders for temporary public exhibition in Australia.  Institutions such as museums, galleries, libraries, and archives seeking accreditation under the scheme must demonstrate robust due diligence and provenance policies and practices.  The Australian Federal Police reported that it was not aware of any examples of a law enforcement investigation in Australia resulting in the return of Holocaust-era property, but it was aware of an example of voluntary restitution.  In early 2014, the National Gallery of Victoria agreed to return a painting, “Head of a Man,” believed to have been sold under duress.  The gallery’s decision to return the painting followed a request made on behalf of two South African women deemed to be the legal heirs of a Jewish industrialist who auctioned the painting at a reduced price in Amsterdam in 1933 after fleeing Berlin.  The portrait had been sold to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1940.

In 2015, the government published a best practice guide to collecting cultural material that also refers to provenance research and due diligence and provides guidance to cultural institutions considering a request for restitution, among other topics.  Australia’s most prominent art galleries, Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia and Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, have their own due diligence and provenance policies that require thorough research regarding the provenance of art works prior to acquisition.

Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

Australia is party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  The convention requires parties to ensure that no collecting institution accepts illegally exported cultural property.  According to one commentator, Australia’s Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act of 1986 implemented Australia’s obligations under the UNESCO convention, although its focus on the cultural heritage of foreign countries does not adequately address the issue of Nazi-looted art.  Australia has not established any spoliation procedure or advisory body to adjudicate looted art claims.

Australia received 3,307 books from Jewish Cultural Reconstruction after WWII.  The Department does not know whether provenance research has been conducted on these holdings or whether other Judaica may have reached Australia during or after WWII.

Access to Archival Documents

The Australian government’s best practice guide to collecting cultural material directs collecting institutions to international databases of stolen art, including the INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art database, Art Loss Register, and national databases within relevant countries.  Certain Australian galleries have established their own databases documenting the provenance of their collections.  For example, the National Gallery of Australia’s Provenance Research Project, Art in Europe 1933-1945, transparently documents the provenance of all works in its collection presumed to have been in Europe between 1933 and 1945.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

In June 2019, Australia became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  In a statement, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said, “Australia’s IHRA membership demonstrates our continuing commitment to combating anti-Semitism and protecting freedom of religion.”  Ceremonies marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day were held in Sydney and Melbourne on January 27, 2019, and a presentation by Holocaust survivors at the Sydney Jewish Museum was fully subscribed.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) reported that learning about the Holocaust is mandated in Australia’s national curriculum and in the curricula of every Australian state and territory, which public and private schools are required to follow.  For example, students in Year 10 (high school sophomore equivalent) examine “significant events of WWII, including the Holocaust.”  The inclusion of the Holocaust as part of the mandatory Year 10 curriculum was advocated by the ECAJ and included in the national curriculum beginning in 2008.

At least three institutions in the country have permanent exhibitions dedicated to Holocaust education and remembrance.  The Sydney Jewish Museum hosts a permanent Holocaust exhibition tracing the persecution and murder of European Jews and the new lives forged by survivors in Australia.  Perth hosts the Holocaust Institute of Western Australia, and Melbourne hosts the Jewish Holocaust Centre, a museum and resource center that exhibits photographs, artifacts, and documents donated by Melbourne Holocaust survivors.  The Holocaust is also documented as part of the Second World War Gallery at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which welcomes more than one million visitors per year.

The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution

Private social welfare organizations provide support to Holocaust survivors, including JewishCare Victoria and JewishCare New South Wales (NSW), both of which have received grants from the Claims Conference.  For example, JewishCare Victoria’s Holocaust Survivor Support Program assists eligible Holocaust survivors with tailored services, including in-home and personal care, therapies, and medical assistance.  Service providers such as JewishCare receive financial support from the Australian government.  According to the Claims Conference, JewishCare NSW serves 1,800 Sydney-based Holocaust survivors, most of whom are from Central Europe, and JewishCare Victoria serves approximately 1,500 Holocaust survivors in the state of Victoria.  In 2015, the Claims Conference budgeted 16,646,630 U.S. dollars for programs in Australia, consisting of direct compensation; social welfare services; and Shoah education, documentation, and research.

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