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Castle to be returned to Polish prince?

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 12.06.2012 17:52
One of Poland's finest castles may be returned to a Polish prince, 68 years after it was confiscated by the communist regime.

Krasiczyn Castle: photo - wikipedia

Malgorzata Chomycz-Smigielska, voivoide of the south eastern Podkarpackie region, has concluded that the castle and park of Krasiczyn were illegally subjected to the 1944 communist decree on land reform.

Prior to the war, the castle belonged to Prince Leon Sapieha, who later became a member of the Polish resistance, dying childless after sustaining a wound in the summer of 1944.

His nephew, Prince Michal Ksawery Sapieha, escaped from Poland in 1945 as a teenager in a car provided by American diplomats. He ultimately obtained Belgian citizenship.

According to the 1944 land decree, agricultural estates larger than 50 hectares or general estates of more than 100 hectares could be confiscated. The castle and park at Krasiczyn comprise of 14.5 hectares.

In the light of archival documents and testimonies by witnesses, voivoide Malgorzata Chomycz-Smigielska has confirmed that Krasiczyn Castle and its park should have been categorised as separate entities from the Sapieha family's other properties – which covered more than 100 hectares - and that the castle was not connected with agricultural production.

The castle and park are currently in the hands of the state-backed Industrial Development Agency (ARP), which is entitled to appeal against the decision.

Prince Michal Ksawery Sapieha, now 82, was the honorary patron of an exhibition at the Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow last autumn in tribute to his family.

The prince's lawyer told the Polish Press Agency that his client hopes that a university for Central European nations will be created at the castle.

Thousands of other restitution cases are still outstanding in Poland, with dispossesed owners calling for compensation for confiscated properties.

In April 2011, President Bronislaw Komorowski said that “the lack of a bill on reprivatisation is a disgrace for Poland,” and that he “would not hesitate to sign” such a bill. (nh)

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