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Auschwitz locals in land compensation call

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Auschwitz locals in land compensation call


Residents near Auschwitz are stepping up a campaign to get compensation for land and property seized by the Nazis to build the infamous death camp.

Thousands of Polish families were evicted from the area in 1940 and have been waiting for compensation ever since.

Marian Barus was seven years old at the time. He remembers the day the Nazis entered his village:

People here were very confused as gradually more and more of them were resettled. The Germans didn’t allow us to take our cattle with us, so all these animals were just left roaming around the village. Even those who weren’t resettled were stunned by what was happening. It was horrific.

The claimants don’t want their land or houses back, but believe the current German government should financially compensate residents who were evicted in sometimes severe circumstances.

Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman of the Auschwitz museum, describes how harsh some resettlements were:

The conditions under which people were resettled were extremely tough. Some young people were sent as slaves- there’s no other word for it- to forced labour in Germany and other occupied territories.

The post-war communist government in Poland was reluctant to return any land to its previous owners and the residents and their relatives now believe that a 70-year wait is long enough.

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