Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 - 25 of Av, 5780
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Holocaust restitution : progress ‘’too slow’’ overall with regard to provenance research and return of Nazi-confiscated and looted art, says US State Department report

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The JUST Act was passed in 2017 with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump in May of 2018. The law requires the department to submit a report to Congress on progress countries have made in implementing the commitments they undertook when they endorsed the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets.

The Terezin Declaration called for fair and comprehensive claims processes that do not discriminate based on citizenship or residency.

The State Department called out Bosnia, Belarus, Ukraine and particularly Poland for not having acted on restitution claims.

‘’It’s been only 75 years since the Nazi crematoria have cooled, and yet, in our generation, we are witnessing an appalling rise of anti-Semitism throughout the world,’’ said Elan Carr, US Special Envoy to Monitot and Combat Antisemitism, during a U.S. State Department briefing that mainly addressed Holocaust restitution issues in several countries.

U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels  spoke on the public release of the JUST Act report, which assess progress on the restitution or compensation for property wrongfully seized during the Holocaust.

The JUST Act was passed in 2017 with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump in May of 2018. The law requires the department to submit a report to Congress on progress countries have made in implementing the commitments they undertook when they endorsed the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets.

The Terezin Declaration called for fair and comprehensive claims processes that do not discriminate based on citizenship or residency.

The report released by the State Department notes that progress has been ‘’too slow’’ overall with regard to provenance research and return of Nazi-confiscated and looted art.

“As we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, the legacy of the Nazis’ mass looting remains in too many places and largely unaddressed,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a forward to the JUST Act report. “Given the advanced age of Holocaust survivors, many of whom live in poverty, the findings of this report serve as a reminder that countries must act with a greater sense of urgency to provide restitution or compensation for the property wrongfully seized from victims of the Holocaust and other victims of Nazi persecution.”

The report cited “bureaucratic inertia” for much of the problem that has persisted for generations and in some cases been exacerbated by a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment throughout Europe.

The State Department called out Bosnia, Belarus, Ukraine and particularly Poland for not having acted on restitution claims.

Responding to questions from reporters, Cherrie Daniels in particular addressed the case of Poland which has shown its reluctance to give reparations to Holocaust victims. ,

‘’We are still having discussions with Poland. Poland is a sovereign country. They committed to this Terezin Declaration. They committed to the principles. They committed in doing so that they would take action on all of the areas that I mentioned at the beginning,’’ he said.

‘’The report notes that Poland has made a serious commitment to Holocaust commemoration, that Poland’s work on Holocaust commemoration can be a guidepost to others, and that if we are – to – if we want to prevent such another atrocity, we have to remember the lessons of the Holocaust and combat historical revisionism as well as anti-Semitism,’’ Brown said. .

The report, he said, notes that Poland provides financial support to Holocaust survivors from Poland wherever they reside in the world in the form of a monthly pension equivalent to that given to pensioners who live in Poland, and that sets a positive example for other countries.

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