U.S. State Department report highlights urgent need for restitution to Holocaust survivors

07 Aug 2020

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of State has submitted its first report on European countries’ restitution to Holocaust survivors and heirs for assets seized during the Nazi Germany and post-war communist eras. The report is required by the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, which was passed with unanimous bipartisan support, and signed by President Trump, in 2018. The legislation requires the State Department to review the laws and policies of 46 nations that ratified the Terezin Declaration at the June 2009 Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference. 

Upon reviewing the JUST Act Report, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder shared, “I thank the U.S. State Department for continuing, under Secretary Mike Pompeo’s direction, the United States’ long tradition of pursuing justice for Holocaust survivors and their families.”  

Lauder recounted that “at the 2009 Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference, the World Jewish Congress’ former Secretary-General Michael Schneider implored the assembled states ‘to do the right thing’ and speedily pass and implement restitution laws in a ‘non-bureaucratic fashion.’ The WJC is grateful for the dedicated efforts of the U.S. government in ensuring that Terezin Declaration signatories meet this obligation. 

“We especially appreciate the efforts of Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Cherrie Daniels in spearheading the report. Special Envoy Daniels is well-known for her discerning interactions with Jewish communities across Europe and is highly respected for her work.” 

Lauder, who also serves as the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) Chairman of the Council, added, “The JUST Act’s broad bipartisan passage in 2018 further demonstrates Congress’ commitment to keeping Holocaust issues above politics. While many countries have worked to honor their 2009 pledges, the time is long overdue for remaining nations to put their own partisan politics aside and ensure justice for Holocaust survivors.” 

In the JUST Act Report’s forward, Secretary of State Pompeo emphasizes: “Much time has passed, and the need for action is urgent. 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. 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. All victims of the Nazi regime should be able to live out their remaining days in dignity.” 

Following the report’s release, WJRO Chair of Operations Gideon Taylor said, “As the JUST Act Report makes clear, Holocaust survivors and Jewish communities continue to wait for justice for property that was wrongfully taken from them.” 


About the World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.
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Samantha Kupferman
West End Strategy Team
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