A bipartisan group of US senators is calling on Poland’s president to oppose a bill that critics say would prevent Holocaust survivors and their descendants from pursing claims for restitution compensation for stolen property.
The law has already passed Poland’s lower house but it needs to pass its senate and be approved by the president to become law.
Under the proposed new law, restitution claims more than 30 years old for property stolen during the Holocaust will become invalid. The law also makes appeals against judicial outside of the 30-year framework impossible.
The law would make it in effect impossible for survivors to pursue restitution claims.
In a letter written by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), James Lankford (R-OK) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and signed by eight others, and addressed to Polish President Andrzej Duda, the group noted their concerns with the legislation.
They urged Duda to “demonstrate clear opposition to the crimes committed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet-backed Polish government.”
Remarking that the US and Poland maintain a “firm alliance” based on democratic values and a shared goal of freedom and prosperity for Europe, they wrote to “express their grave concerns with the proposed bill.”
“We strongly believe that this legislation would significantly increase the existing hurdles that prevent victims and their families from claiming restitution and compensation for property wrongfully taken by Nazi Germany and by the communist-era government of Poland.”
The amended law would place a time limit on seeking “redress for the crimes of the Nazis and the communists.”
“While we share your belief that Poland should not be held responsible for crimes committed by the Nazis and the communists, we also believe that this is an opportunity to demonstrate Poland’s commitment to achieving justice for the victims of these heinous crimes. Countless Poles—both Jewish and non-Jewish—suffered during this dark and tragic period of history, and the families of these victims should be able to seek redress for these crimes.”
They called on Duda to push for the Polish Senate to withdraw the bill, and if it is passed to veto it.
“There is no better way for Poland to demonstrate its clear opposition to the crimes committed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet-backed Polish government. To do so would also ensure that Poland honors its obligations under the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues to support national laws to help Holocaust survivors reclaim their property,” they wrote.