Poland Believes It Is Unfairly Targeted
The White House announced on May 9 that United States President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order requiring restitution for all Holocaust victims. He signed the “Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act” or JUST. The law instructs the State Department on how to have oversight of the return of assets which were seized by the Nazi-occupied nations at the time of the Holocaust.
This news was not received kindly by the Polish Government. Polish nationalists protested in front of the US Embassy alleging that the American Government is now interfering in Polish internal affairs. It is to be noted Poland continues to be the only country that still does not have a legal restitution process.
Jacek Czaputowicz, the Polish Foreign Minister, told the media the new law efficiently puts Jewish claimants over non-Jewish ones. He alleged the American law would divide Polish society. The JUST instructs the Department of State to review international reports on human rights. It must determine if a country is acting in compliance with international agreements reached in the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues. Because of Poland’s lack of national laws, this would mean the State Department would increase pressure toward the country to return any wrongfully transferred or seized property.
The definition of property, in this case, include religious or communal property. It also includes equitable compensation to the rightful owner. This could mean either public property or private property. The Polish government may be asked to return property the government owns or work with private citizens in returning any identified assets that are flagged as wrongly taken during the Holocaust.
A total of 46 countries approved the Terezin Declaration. Jan Fischer, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic announced it officially during a closing ceremony held on June 30, 2009. All participating nations highlighted the importance of providing due restitution for both individual and communal immovable property. This could be seen as a reaction to Poland passing a law that bans any public speech that accuses Poland of blame for the Holocaust.