Two rulings from the US Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit last week support the efforts of Chabad to recover seforim and manuscripts stolen by the Soviet Union and the Nazis, Collive reported on Wednesday.
The Russian government has continuously refused to return the Jewish items despite multiple court orders. The seforim and manuscripts belonged to the Friediker Rebbe who was forced to escape from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution after he was condemned to death for spreading Yiddishkeit. During World War II, the Nazis seized the items and they were subsequently seized by the Soviet army after the Nazi defeat. The Soviets brought the stolen items to Moscow where they are holding them until today.
Years ago, Chabad won a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the Russian Federation was ordered to return the Schneerson Collection. When it refused to do so, the court issued sanctions which now total $150 million.
Chabad tried to collect the money owed them through VEB (a Russian instrumentality that functions as a bank) and Tenam (a uranium company that is indirectly owned by the Russian Federation). The companies both appealed but the court rejected both appeals and affirmed the earlier ruling against the Russian Federation.
“This is a tremendous victory for Chabad and for the Jewish people. Coming on the Fifth day of Chanukah, this decision allows Chabad to move forward in its century-long efforts to retrieve its sacred heritage and is a significant step forward in the process of allowing Chabad to recover those texts,” said Steven Lieberman of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, one of Chabad’s lawyers.
“We are grateful to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for its rulings, which bring Chabad, and all the victims and survivors of Soviet and Nazi persecution, one step closer to the recovery of these holy documents.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)