"While progress has taken place since the fall of Communism and the subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union, there remains an urgent need to help the tens of thousands of elderly Holocaust victims and their heirs whose property claims remain unsatisfied," Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said in a statement.
Some at the conference, however, say they have seen some progress.
"It's too easy to be pessimistic," said Stuart Eizenstat, a special adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State on Holocaust issues. "These conferences are not simply an exercising in speaking. They are peer reviews, they encourage action. Their declarations, even though not legally binding, have made profound differences in the ways in which countries have tackled this problem."
Eizenstat highlighted Germany and Austria as models for others for their property restitution and compensation laws.
But he also noted that post-communist countries, including Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania, have been doing well at returning communal Jewish property such as synagogues and cemeteries. But he said many of these countries have not done as well compensating for private property like homes and factories.
Poland, in particular, is often criticized for failing to pass legislation that would compensate Jews for their losses in the Holocaust. Once home to Europe's largest Jewish community, Poland had for many years vowed to tackle the problem, but in 2011, Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government suspended work on a compensation law, saying a rising state deficit left it unable to afford such payments.
Eizenstat said the struggle would go on.
"What we're doing is we're moving beyond the pledges that were made in 2010 to look at the concrete actions that have been taken," Eizenstat said. "We need to help survivors in their lifetime."
Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.
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