US ramping up pressure on Poland over restitution law

US special envoy for Holocaust issues says Polish legislation "would cause irreparable harm to both Jews and non-Jews".

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)
Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)

The United States is ramping up pressure on Poland in hopes of stopping legislation that would prevent families from receiving restitution for property seized during the Holocaust and communist era, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The US said Wednesday that Poland is the only country in Europe to have regressed over the past year in meeting commitments to return seized property or provide compensation for Holocaust victims and their families. The public admonishment is likely to anger Polish authorities, who have rejected previous criticism on the matter.

Cherrie Daniels, the US special envoy for Holocaust issues, said the Polish legislation “would cause irreparable harm to both Jews and non-Jews by effectively extinguishing claims for restitution and compensation of property taken during the Holocaust that was subsequently nationalized during the communist period.”

“We are disappointed that the Polish government and the opposition seems too often to purposely conflate property restitution or compensation with (WWII) reparations,” Daniels added, according to AP. “We would like to see the Polish government, at a minimum, amend the legislation so that claimants with pending claims can continue to pursue them through the existing administrative process.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke to US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) about the Polish restitution law.

“We both expressed our deep concern regarding the Polish law and agreed that it must be stopped,” Lapid said.

A report last week indicated that Israel asked the Biden administration to support its effort against the Polish restitution legislation that would restrict claims by Holocaust survivors and their families for property stolen by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

A Haaretz report said that Lapid was in talks with Washington on the matter and had raised the issue in his conversations with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and asked for his help.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry recently summoned Poland’s ambassador to Israel after senior Polish leaders excoriated Israel’s foreign minister for criticizing the legislation.