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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Jewish Community of Slovenia on the stolen Jewish villa: “Prime Minister Janša Hit the Nail on the Head and Faced the SD Party With the Painful Truth!”

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

The SD party owns at least eleven properties in Slovenia – including the business premises in Velenje at Prešernova Street 1, where the prosecutor’s office and the District Court are also located – which only deepens the issue of impartiality that the court and the prosecutor’s office should have. Recently, the SD party boasted about the ruling of the Velenje District Court, saying that the Prime Minister must apologise to them for accusing them of stealing the building on Levstikova Street in Ljubljana where the party has its headquarters, from the Jewish community. The Jewish Community of Slovenia agrees with Prime Minister Janez Janša: “He faced the SD party with the painful truth.”

The Jewish community of Slovenia pointed out that the problem of Moskovič’s villa is not so much in the formal legal dilemmas as in the lack of justice. “And as the law deviated from justice, this resulted in the ruling of the Velenje court. The higher court will now have to rule on the legal correctness, but Prime Minister Janez Janša hit the nail on the head and told it as it is. He faced the SD party with the painful truth,” Vice President of the Jewish community of Slovenia, Igor Vojtic, explained. The Jewish community of Slovenia expects the restitution of property that was confiscated from the members of the community who died during the Holocaust and had no heirs. At the end of this process, they are willing to exchange other real estate properties for Moskovič’s villa, as it has great symbolic significance for the Jewish community. “For the SD party, the building apparently represents a moral burden, which is constantly weighing on their conscience,” Vojtic also added.”

In April of this year, the European Jewish Association wrote a letter to the president of the SD party, Tanja Fajon, pointing out that it would be appropriate, fair and moral to correct historical mistakes and return the villa that was stolen from Felix Moskovič, who was murdered during the Holocaust, to the Slovenian Jewish community as part of the settlement on the inheritance without heirs. As is well known, the villa once belonged to the Jewish merchant Moskovič, but he and his family were taken to concentration camps during the Second World War, where they died. After their deaths, the property was sold under questionable conditions, nationalised, and then used by the Communist Party in the former Yugoslavia. We have also informed the European Jewish Association of current developments and are still waiting for their response.

The Social Democrats own 11 or 12 properties which have a total area of 1753,99 square meters. The party got these properties as the legal successor of the Communist Party of Slovenia – the Party of Democratic Renewal (Zveza komunistov Slovenije – Stranka demokratične prenove, referred to as ZKS-SDP), as the media outlet 24ur – or rather, Irena Joveva, who is currently an MEP but was still a journalist at the time, reported years ago. This is also how the SD party got the building at Tomšičeva Street 5 in Ljubljana, where the National Assembly is located today, and where the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia had its headquarters. After the Second World War, the building was taken over from the subdivision of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Communist Party of Slovenia. As the successors of the League of Communists, the Party of Democratic Renewal was allowed to be put down as the owner of the property in the land registered in 1993. The Party of Democratic Renewal, which is now known as the Social Democrats party, had previously signed an exchange and gift agreement with the government, represented by then-Prime Minister Drnovšek’s Secretary-General, Mirko Bandelj. In this contract, the client already acted as the owner of the property on Tomšičeva Street 5 – and they still managed to successfully trade it for the so-called Moskovič’s villa at Levstikova Street 5 and the business premises on Slovenska Street 9.

Ignoring the ruling of the Constitutional Court and delaying the adoption of the law
The Constitutional Court judges were very clear in their ruling regarding the takeover of the property of the former Legal Communists – even before the signing of the exchange and gift agreement between the Party of Democratic Renewal and the government, they wrote that the real estate which was managed by the League of Communists of Slovenia could not become the property of the ZKS-SDP: “… The social assets the Communist Party managed as a socio-political organisation did not become its property. The Law on Political Association does not have any such provisions on the transformation of social property into the property of political organisations,” the 24ur web portal quoted the ruling of the court. The division of social property was regulated only in 1994 by the Political Parties Act. But at that time, the Party of Democratic Renewal was already registered as the owner of the real estate in the land register. In their separate opinion on the 1992 decision that the Party of Democratic Renewal could not appropriate the social property of the former League of Communists, the Constitutional Court judges Tone Jerovšek and Matevž Krivic even hinted that the party had deliberately postponed the regulation of privatisation: “The Constitutional Court should assess in its procedure whether the ZKS-SDP and the Association of Trade Unions have really moved from the status of former social legal entities to the status of civil legal entities; when did this eventually happen, and what are the legal consequences of such a transition (and also if these consequences were not yet regulated by law and if this question was intentionally left to later legislation when the Law on Political Association was being adopted, while the operating and status of the trade unions were also not yet regulated at the time and are still not regulated today).”

A similar fate as Moskovič’s villa is shared by many other properties in Ljubljana – the communist elite had a sophisticated taste and, of course, chose only the best for its politicians. A document prepared by the former “National Property Commission” presents a list of properties that they considered suitable for their ministers and therefore intended to confiscate – one way or the other. Some, for example, ended up in prison for years – just so the communists could appropriate their property. And in the case of Moskovič’s villa – which was also on the aforementioned list – the whole family died in concentration camps.


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