Diplomatic outposts in Warsaw are losing their homes. The Serbian Embassy just finished moving out, and the embassies of Iran and Finland face uncertain futures. But the most notable move may involve the U.S. Embassy.
The problem for the embassies is the former owners of the buildings they are located in. The former owners want to repossess the property they lost after World War II.
The daily newspaper Polska reports that Americans have asked Warsaw City Hall to find property where a new embassy could be built. Their requirements are challenging. The land must be in the city center or nearby.
The Americans say a move would actually be desirable because the current building doesn’t meet counterterrorism and safety requirements. They say the embassy also is too small and too old. The embassy covers a block of flats built in the 1960s on a site where some ancient buildings stood before war. Whether the Americans want to move or not, it is possible they soon won’t have a choice. Since the early 1990s, the Czetwertynski and Radziwill families have been trying to repossess the land beneath the U.S. Embassy. The families owned the land before World War II. After the war, the Communist government nationalized and seized the property, as it did other grounds and buildings in the capital city. By the end of the 50s, the Polish government transferred the property to the U.S.
Now lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in compensation and property have been filed.
Ed Fagan, an American lawyer for the Czetwertynski family, has sued the U.S. government in a New York court, demanding $275 mln in compensation. He has filed an appeal in the matter after the New York court said it didn’t have jurisdiction.
The embassy isn’t the only problem for the U.S. in Warsaw. The residence of the U.S. ambassador is in the Mokotow district. The Zoltowski family tried to repossess the property, but the court didn’t agree. The family received money but not the property.
Other embassies in Warsaw have similar problems. Most of them are located in Ujazdowsie Alee in Warsaw. Those properties were also nationalized after the war.