In an attempt to influence the Polish legislators working on restitution bill, fifty-nine U.S. senators appealed on Monday to Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to support legislation that wouldn’t require that claimants are Polish citizens and that wouldn’t limit compensation for the World War II losses to spouses, children or grandchildren of the Holocaust victims.
“This draft legislation would adversely affect Holocaust victims and their heirs and is therefore of urgent importance to many of our constituents, millions of Americans, and Holocaust survivors around the world”, the senators wrote.
The letter is concerned only with justice for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and their descendants at the expense of Polish victims of the Holocaust and their descendants. By doing so, the letter confirms the recent efforts to limit the victims of the Holocaust only to Jewish people, hence it disregards millions of Polish victims of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and disrespects millions of Americans of Polish descent. The appeal ignores also the fact that millions of Poles had to rebuild the destroyed country after the war, and that billions of Polish Zlotyhad to be invested in the reconstruction and maintenance of buildings and factories. This hard work of the Polish people and billions of Polish Zloty constitute a bulk portion of the present value of all real estates in today’s Poland.The U.S. senators seem also to belittle the efforts of the Polish state to return Jewish communal property pursuant to the 1997 law on the relationship between the Polish State and Jewish religious organizations. Over 2,500 communal properties, including synagogues, cemeteries, and cultural centers, have been either compensated for or returned, frequently in a fully renovated state (after they were raised to the ground during the WWII).
The senators lashed out at Poland as “the only major European country that has not passed a national, comprehensive law for the restitution of, or compensation for, private property”.They did not consider, however, that exactly the so called big restitution bill proposed by Polish deputy Minister of Justice Patryk Jaki addressed the issue of just compensation of all the victims of postwar expropriation and nationalization. The hard work of Minister Jaki was not recognized by the senators at all.
We all know, how difficult and complicated has been the restitution process in Poland and that it has been marred by activities of restitution mafia, especially in Warsaw. The tentacles of the thugs reached out to Warsaw’s City Hall. The Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who allowed all this to happen, is still in power. We can only ask, why did not the U.S. senators urge Gronkiewicz-Waltz to step down immediately?
The infrastructure of the United States was not affected by the World War II and Poles expect a due respect and understanding from the American legislators. The unnecessary pressure of underinformed senators plays into the hands of people who frequently cheated out the rightful heirs of their rights.The former owners of nationalized properties in Poland and their descendants, be it Jews or Poles, have the right to be treated fairly. But a hasty interference of U.S. Jewish lobby groups and of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues in the work of U.S. senators and the Polish Ministry of Justice can only lead to a deepening of social divisions and indirectly adversely affect the Polish-Israeli and Polish-American relations. Poland’s neighbors, Germany and Russia, which are responsible for World War Two damages, wash their hands in invisible soap, and Poland is being left alone by its strongest ally, the United States of America.
You can read a copy of the signed letter here.
Image source: MassisPost