Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Rectification of Racial Discrimination during WWII: the Case of Restitution Laws in Serbia
Restitution for the mostly Jewish property and assets that were confiscated by the Nazis during World War II (WWII) in various European states has been a highly debated issue ever since the end of the war. Countries that adhered to the ideas of communism and nationalisation of property in the immediate aftermath of the war failed to address this issue until very recently. Serbia, too, has only began to consider remedying the incredible damage done to its rather small Jewish community. More specifically, in the past decade, Serbia has been trying to repair the damage by passing a series of restitution laws which eventually led to separate legislation on heirless property. This paper explores the substance and application of these laws, as well as the history of discrimination based on which the Serbian Jewish community was persecuted by German occupiers and their collaborators. In doing so, through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT), this paper identifies another group that has been persecuted on the basis of race, namely the Romani. What follows from such research is the following: firstly, the law allowed for discrimination on a racial basis of both Jews and Roma during WWII and, secondly, the law is now remedying the damages caused towards the former group, but not the latter. In conclusion, this paper suggests that such a distinction is made due to a possible interest convergence, as defined by CRT.