US hits Poland, others in Europe for failing to compensate for property stolen from Holocaust victims
The US criticized a number of eastern and central European nations, including Poland, for failing to compensate for property stolen from Holocaust victims and their families as the numbers of survivors dwindles due to age.
“Much time has passed, and the need for action is urgent,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a forward to the 200-page report that looks at the records of 46 countries in meeting commitments they made to restitution in 2009.
In the report, the State Department called out Bosnia, Belarus, Ukraine and particularly Poland for not having acted on restitution claims.
Croatia, Latvia and Russia were also taken to task in the report, which is likely to draw angry responses from the governments identified.
Poland was home to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities before it was almost entirely wiped out by Nazis in Polish death camps like Auschwitz. More than 3 million of Poland’s Jewish population of 3.2 million were murdered during the Holocaust.
The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, or Act 447, requires the US Department of State to provide a report to Congress on the progress of dozens of countries that signed a declaration in 2009 on the restitution of assets seized during or following World War Two.
The so-called Terezin declaration also includes provisions to give formerly Jewish-owned property with no heirs to Holocaust survivors in need of financial help or to support education on the subject.
Polish ultra-nationalists have said that the law could result in Jewish organizations demanding as much as $300 billion in compensation.
Last year, the Polish ultra-nationalist antisemitic government canceled the visit of an official Israeli delegation to Warsaw, which planned to discuss the restoring of Jewish property stolen from Polish Jews during and after the Holocaust.