Poland Furious After Trump Signs Law Helping Holocaust Survivors Reclaim Stolen Property

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

Poland’s president decried an act that President Donald Trump signed recently that could help Holocaust survivors and heirs reclaim European property stolen during World War II.

Trump signed the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today act, or JUST act, on Wednesday, requiring the State Department to report annually to Congress what various European countries have done to compensate Holocaust survivors and their heirs, according to The Associated Press. Jewish advocacy groups hailed the act, but Polish leadership said it unfairly targets Poland and divides Polish society by placing the claims of Jews above non-Jews.

Polish President Andrzej Duda’s spokesman asserted that Poland should not be required to provide compensation for damage and theft caused by the Nazi regime. Poland’s foreign minister also argued the law is discriminatory.

“This position of the (U.S.) Congress is not good because it wants some privileges for the Jews, for the Jewish community, but not for the Poles. I think that the Poles who live in the U.S. may feel hurt by that,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told the AP.

Non-Jewish Poles who fought against the Nazis and then resettled in America have no legislation to protect their claims on property that they left behind and that was subsequently taken by the Communists, Czaputowicz argued.

“Their property here remains without any settlement and nobody speaks on their behalf, only on the behalf of the Jews. That is not good because that divides our society,” he added.

The law does not specifically target Poland or give the U.S. authority to take actions against any country on the list, which is comprised of the countries that signed the Terezin Declaration. Poland, however, is the only country on the list that has not passed laws ensuring compensation for those who had property seized either by the Nazis or by the communists.

The World Jewish Organization also refuted Czaputowicz’s claim that the act discriminates against non-Jews, according to the AP, saying that it applies to “both Holocaust victims and other victims of Nazi persecution.”

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