Act H.R.1226, Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017, applies to Holocaust Era assets, which were “wrongfully seized or transferred” during the war or in the postwar period of Communist rule. The Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 27, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It applies to the countries which are signatories of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Assets and Related Issues. Poland, the country with one of the largest Jewish population during WWII, would be most affected by this Act. If signed by President Trump, Act H.R.1226 could have a devastating effect on Poland. Act S. 447, which is a “sister act” of Act H.R.1226, passed Senate on December 12, 2017.
The proposed Acts S. 447 and H.R. 1226 overlook, however, important historical facts, go against historical justice, and against the existing laws, particularly against the bilateral agreement of July 16, 1960 between the United States of America and Poland regarding claims of nationals of the United States (for details please refer to “Legal background” and “Agreement between the United States of America and Poland”). The bills leave out other racial and ethnic groups, like millions of Polish victims killed by the Germans during World War II, who left behind heirless properties in Poland and in other countries as well.
Stop Act H.R. 1226 is a joint project of various groups of Polish Americans, initiated by the Polish American Congress of Southern California. The project is coordinated by the leaders of several divisions of the Polish American Congress, but other Polish American organizations and individuals are actively involved in the project, as well.
The aim of the project is to stop the grossly flawed bill H.R. 1226 and its sister bill S. 447 in the U.S. Congress.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Poland has resorted to various means in order to return properties to their rightful owners. Thousands of people with legitimate title claims – regardless of their ethnic origin – have recovered and are still recovering their properties through the court system pursuant to the private property law. Jewish religious and communal properties in Poland have been returned or compensated for by now, pursuant to the 1997 law. A proposed new legislation on property restitution (a so called “big restitution bill”) will see cash compensation paid out to people whose real estate was confiscated by the communist regime and it will allow for cash payments of up to 20 percent of the values of properties at the time of their “nationalisation”. Patryk Jaki, Polish Deputy Minister of Justice said returns of property after 1989 were flawed since buildings were confiscated in a state of ruin as a result of World War II, but were handed back rebuilt and renovated.
Therefore, the bills S. 447 and H.R. 1226 must be stopped.
To read the full text of Act H.R. 1226 please go to the website of the U.S. Congress.