Discovered my grandmother owned land before the war, what now? #austria-czech #holocaust

Moses Jefferson

Hi folks, I’ve been digging into my family roots and happened to stumble upon a piece of (likely) valuable information.

I discovered in a post-war form (attached below) that my grandmother owned property of “43 Joch Ackerfeld und weise” (probably a measurement of land) at an estimated worth of K.c 200,000.

In the form she indicated that it’s an inheritance, so this would mean that it was hers by all legal means. The location in given to a town Mihalani CSR, which I cannot possibly seem to find.

My questions are:
a) do you know where this town would be nowadays?
b) is it or can it be reclaimed by any legal means?

I’d like to hear from similar cases and how they’ve ended successfully.

Best, Moses

Sherri Bobish

Hi Moses,

Some thoughts:

K.c 200,000 may refer to Czech currency.  Czech Republic Koruna.
During the state's existence, it was simply referred to "Czechoslovakia" or sometimes the "CSSR" and "CSR" in short.
Perhaps take a look at this town: 
Michalovce, Slovakia: 48°45' N, 21°56' E 


Sherri Bobish
Princeton, NJ

Valentin Lupu

Hi Moses,
The parents of a friend of mine were from the town of Michalany in Slovakia, during WWII. Slovakia was then part of Czechoslovakia Republic (CSR). Most of the town people were Jewish and Hungarian / Slovakian speakers.  Michalany is known now as Michalovce in Slovakia (near Kosice).

Valentin Lupu


Michal'any, Slovakia is still on the map today, on the border with Hungary. Mchal'any is just southeast of Košice and south of Trebišov.

Peninah Zilberman

Dear Moses Jefferson,


I have some peronal advise for you, in ref. to the land found

that belonged to your family in Slovakia.


You must  feel probably very happy to find out that your family

owned land, it shows that they belonged

To above middle class level.


However, I am about to suggest and hopefully you will not be disappointed

Or you might but I am going to save you a lot of money.


All eastern European countries have created rules that are limiting us

the descendants from obtaining the land back, basically they claim who paid

the property taxes?, you didn’t ?, therefore if you really want it back you will

spend  a fortune and might end without the land.


If you hire a lawyer, he will promise you a lot but, eventually he will keep asking

money and you will not move forward too much, it can take years.

My personal  suggestion is , if you plan a Family Roots Journey, go and visit the city,

Try to locate the piece of land, find out if there is a local person who can be a tour guide

And have him locate the land before you arrive.


After WW II, all Jewish Properties became the countries property, after Communism Regime,

people were able to  buy the land, in most cases who ever took care of the land maybe as a

farmer he bought the land.


Your guide might find, when he looks for the land that the local person who most likely owns it,

is going to react very upset and can be violent- sorry- they don’t like us to claim the land.


In conclusion, unfortunately, not too much success.

But if you can to go and visit that would be terrific to do such a Journey.


Best regards


LOGO tarbut 2015-EMAIL

Peninah Zilberman

Canada 1-416-781-0330

Romania + 40-74-414-5351

Israel 972-54-228-8141




I am a retired lawyer from Texas. I had a German client, who emigrated after WWII,  who was contacted By a distant cousin to sign a deed because heirs were trying to sell a small apartment building in Dresden. We hired a very large international law firm with offices in Germany. Since they were an american firm, they had ethical duties to worry about.

so, search for a large international law firm in the same area as the property and write to see what they can do. They should charge a small retainer to check into it. If they can get something for you they will ask for more money. They probably will not work on contingency, as that is rare overseas. If they think it is a bad case, they should say so. Important that they have offices in US to protect you in case of trouble. Good luck. We got net of 200,000 dollars for her one sixty fourth share.

[unsigned]   <Arneschonb@...>

Moderator Note:  Signature: Please include your full name at the end of your email. It’s helpful, but optional, to include your location and any names and towns you
are researching that relate to the contents of the message and topic.

Sam <yo_sam2077@...>

Dear Moses et. al.

My father spent more than 50 years pursuing a claim for his parents' property that was "aryanized" in 1938 in the small German town of Ilmenau.   The Thuringia region was part of the Soviet-controlled sphere after 1945.   My father submitted his case right after the end of the war, but nothing happened until German reunification. He hired a local attorney who took the case. Our family  property, consisting of a modern department store and living quarters completed in 1929, had been held in a national trust along with other seized former Jewish property (as well as nationalized assets from Nazi Party members and collaborators -- possibly the same way under the CSR.)  The former ownership was well documented and my father successfully had the deed reassigned to him.  I relate his ceaseless pursuit in a memoir, Loss and Legacy: The Half Century Quest to Reclaim a Birthright Stolen by the Nazis.

Amnon Gronner <yo_sam2077@...>

Elisabeth Gelb

Decades ago, we attempted to reclaim land in Csenger, Hungary. Our significant property was first stolen by nazis, then confiscated by communists in 1956. After significant expense and effort, the end result was that we could 'reclaim', our land, but first had to pay the 'back taxes'. It seems we were 'negligent' in paying these taxes for decades. As you may guess, the taxes owed was far greater than actual property value. However, we commend all efforts to regain stolen property. For past years in Csenger, the Jungreis family and other invested Jews are buying land near the cemetery to keep the memory of our loved ones and our once thriving community alive.

Elisabeth Gelb     egelb18@... 

Theo Rafael

Hi Moses,

There are variable laws depending on specific countries and there are no hard and fast rules.

Our family owned property in Transylvania (Romania) which was first confiscated by the fascists, then returned at the end of WW2 only to be retaken by the communists over the next few years. 
After 1989 there were a series of laws  in Romania that allowed for restitution of property or compensation depending on specific rules. It was a very long battle with laws changing every few years, old laws being changed or replaced by new ones but we were able to get back some property over the years.. My father was lucky to get help from successive local friends (paid on an annual basis and contingency fees), and there were multiple lawsuits filed, lawyers hired, various committees attended and evaluations made over these decades.
Two lawsuits are still ongoing; those were filed in the past 2-5 years after authorities didn't move forward as required by law on SOME of the properties. 
You have to investigate what such laws are in effect in your specific country and whether you can still file under such laws or maybe you can just file a lawsuit. In Romania most of these laws are already past their expiration date, not sure if and what could be done if you were to start now in Romania.
So to sum it up, a lot depends on specific laws in specific countries, in our case there were mixed results over the last 3 decades and the process has still not been finalized.

Theo Rafael     nloftis@...

Theo Rafael

Oh, forgot to add, first order of business should be to check at the property/land registration office what happened with that property right after your grandma's ownership, maybe she just sold it and that would be the end of your quest. If you're lucky this could be even done online or over the phone (or snail mail).
Good luck!

Theo R.

Peninah Zilberman

Interesting story, but it was in Germany, the thoughts and reactions are very different between the countries...Germany lets face it has somewhat a constant guilt  where all the rest of the eastern block countries....were very pleased to see us Jews out of their countries and they obtain all they could that belonged to us...therefore they created laws which prevent us from reclaiming
Good Luck

Fundatia Tarbut Sighet
+40 74 414 5351

Jim M

My family comes from Kamenna Poruba, a town near Zilina in Slovakia.   My brothers and I visited the town in 2017 and arranged a meeting with the  mayor.   He told us that our great-great-grandmother, Julia Millichova in their records, was the last known owner of a plot of farmland outside town.   She died in 1925.  The land had been collectivized in the 1950's.  Our guide (and translator) took us to one of the fields on the edge of town, where we touched our past.   All we brought back was a picture of me running my hands through the soil.

We have made no steps regarding ownership and don't plan to.   The experience was enough.

Jim Milch
pursuing MILCH, HAAS, and SPECHTER  near Rajec, Solvakia.


I hope I am not duplicating information already given by others. Joch is indeed a measure of land :
[One joch is the area of a square 40 klafters (about 83 yards) on a side. This comes to 0.5755 hectare or about 1.422 acres. The plural is joche. Joch is also the word for a yoke in German, so this unit represents an area that could be plowed in a day by a yoke of oxen.]
So your grandmother had 43 Joch of arable land a meadow  - that is the meaning of "Ackerfeld und Wiese" in German. In German all nouns, not only proper names, are written with the first letter capitalized. (Please note how important it is to get the spelling correct when you are doing this kind of research:  the name of the town and the word "Wiese" were not spelled correctly in your message but luckily you attached the original document.)
Sorry to be a bit like a teacher (which I have been, among other things...).

Others have dealt with Mihalany CSR. ...  

dennis gries

I've been reading the various posts on this subject...
My grandparents were victims of the Holocaust.  My maternal aunt made it her work with a Dr.Kempner (a german atty with offices in Phila and perhaps elsewhere) to qualify for and benefit from the West German "restitution" process.  I rather remember her doing this in the 1950s onward.  My father was from an East German area, and I did get some funds about 10 years ago.   
The family before that (both sides) were in the Tarnow area of Poland.  I visited there about 5 years ago, but have no inclination to seek whatever might be possible.  People are probably living on the lands, and have made their lives.  I don't wish to disrupt this.  

Robert Fraser

My late uncle, who fled Austria to Britain in 1939 and
joined the British army, returned to Vienna in 1947 upon
being demobbed.. He went straight to his parents' flat.
There was a nazi couple living there who had moved in
directly after his parents had been expelled and deported to
Riga, where they died.

He suggested that they share this small flat for the time
being, but the man brought a court action against him. The
Austrian judge asked if, at the time of his parents' arrest,
was he in the flat? Of course not. So he had to move out and
that's how it stayed.

The flat is still there - I have visited it.

Robert Fraser
Perth, Western Australia

Robert W Fraser

Perth, Western Australia

Researcher 6342