Poles Protest US Bill De­mand­ing Resti­tu­tion of Jewish Prop­erty

Pol­ish na­tion­al­ists demon­strated at the US em­bassy in War­saw against a bill passed in Congress sup­port­ing Holo­caust vic­tims and their fam­i­lies in re­cov­er­ing prop­erty owned be­fore WWII.

The Jewish Voice - - NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL - By: Batya Jeren­berg

The Amer­i­can em­bassy in Poland's cap­i­tal was the scene of a small rally last Wednesday as dozens of the coun­try's na­tion­al­ists gath­ered to protest the is­sue of com­pen­sat­ing Jews for prop­er­ties lost dur­ing the Holo­caust.

US leg­is­la­tion was the tar­get of their ire as the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives unan­i­mously passed a bill the pre­vi­ous day to sup­port Holo­caust vic­tims and their fam­i­lies in re­cov­er­ing or be­ing com­pen­sated for as­sets owned be­fore World War II. This fol­lows a unan­i­mous vote for the JUST (Jus­tice for Un­com­pen­sated Sur­vivors To­day) Act in the Se­nate last De­cem­ber, and now goes to Pres­i­dent Trump for his ex­pected sig­na­ture to turn it into law.

The bill re­quires the State De­part­ment to re­port what progress cer­tain Euro­pean coun­tries, in­clud­ing Poland, are mak­ing on re­turn­ing as­sets con­fis­cated dur­ing the Holo­caust or com­pen­sat­ing former own­ers in gen­eral – and Amer­i­can cit­i­zens in par­tic­u­lar.

Al­though there are no sanc­tions any­where in the bill for coun­tries that do not have a resti­tu­tion process, the na­tion­al­ists were an­gry. It is ad­mit­tedly a dif­fi­cult le­gal is­sue, as the Com­mu­nists took over where the Nazis had left off, na­tion­al­iz­ing prop­erty left and right, dis­re­gard­ing the orig­i­nal own­ers. And yet, ac­cord­ing to the World Jewish Resti­tu­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Poland is the only ma­jor Euro­pean coun­try with­out leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing such prop­er­ties.

While some of the na­tion­al­ists took a broad view, ob­ject­ing to the “in­ter­fer­ence of an­other state in our in­ter­nal af­fairs,” Na­tional Move­ment law­maker Robert Win­nicki used ugly ter­mi­nol­ogy with anti-Semitic over­tones.

‘The Jews will not get a penny from us'

He said that the goal was to protest “against ex­tor­tion of money and Pol­ish na­tional as­sets re­built af­ter World War II by Pol­ish peo­ple,” as if Jews were not Poles, ad­ding, “The Jews will not get a penny from us.”

Back in Oc­to­ber 2017, the Pol­ish leg­is­la­ture did for­mu­late a resti­tu­tion bill. How­ever, Is­rael lodged an of­fi­cial com­plaint with Poland's for­eign min­istry when

the bill was first in­tro­duced in Oc­to­ber, as it was con­sid­ered from the start to be dis­crim­i­na­tory against Jews.

This is be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the cri­te­ria for re­turn­ing stolen or Com­mu­nist-era na­tion­al­ized prop­erty state, the claimant must be a Pol­ish cit­i­zen and a di­rect de­scen­dant or spouse of the orig­i­nal owner. Con­sid­er­ing the fact that 90 per­cent of Poland's Jewish com­mu­nity was wiped out in World War II and very few Jews live there to­day, this means that in prac­ti­cal terms, al­most no­body would be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion from the gov­ern­ment.

The Amer­i­can em­bassy in Poland’s cap­i­tal was the scene of a small rally last Wednesday as dozens of the coun­try’s na­tion­al­ists gath­ered to protest the is­sue of com­pen­sat­ing Jews for prop­er­ties lost dur­ing the Holo­caust.

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