US Special Envoy: the JUST act doesn’t blame Poland for Nazi crimes

May 14th, 2019 (last updated)

The United States law doesn’t obligate Poland to do anything regarding the property lost by the Holocaust victims during WWII. The JUST act (Act 447) has nothing to do with blaming Poland for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, the United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, Elen Carr said on Wednesday in Warsaw.

“The 447 or the JUST act is a report that my government will make to Congress about all 46 countries that have signed on the Terezin Declaration. Poland is one of those countries, United States is another and there are 44 other countries. This is something that Poland will have to decide how to comply, how it’s going to respond,” Carr told reporters on Wednesday in Warsaw.

“Sometimes, the record needs to be set straight. Poland was not only occupied by Nazi Germany, but subjected to horrific cruelty. Poland was a victim of course. The second-largest Jewish community in the world and the largest in Europe was here in Poland and the vast majority was exterminated. Not by Poles – by outsiders. I think it’s important to set that record straight because it’s also important to acknowledge that victims suffered tremendously,” he emphasized.

He added that “to acknowledge that suffering and to try to ensure that the property they lost is accounted for is very important and I’m grateful that Poland signed on to the Terezin Declaration”.

“How Poland decides to deal with the restitution issues is a matter for Poland. But, obviously, I think that all fair-minded and decent-minded people in Poland and outside of Poland, all over the world, when we see a victim of the horrific injustices perpetrated by Nazi Germany on victims of the Holocaust, we want to help those victims. We want to ensure that justice is done,” said US Special Envoy.

“I’m sure good-hearted Poles want to see that, just as good-hearted Europeans everywhere want to see that.

There are Jews and non-Jews, by the way, who had their property stolen by Nazi Germany and that’s something we want to acknowledge. I think all decent-minded people agree with that,” he added.

“It’s not what we want, it’s what Poland signed on to. The Terezin Declaration said that people who had their property stolen by the Nazis should have a vehicle or method for their property returned to them,” he stressed.

Elen Carr also said that “it’s very important to say that it has nothing to with reparations or blaming any of the 46 countries that signed on for Nazi atrocities.

It’s not an issue of blame, it’s an issue of victimhood and the victims that suffered at the hands of Nazis to have a vehicle for recompensing, for having justice done. I think that all fair-minded people would think that’s reasonable.”

“I think that Poland was clearly a victim of horrific atrocities. The number of Poles that were massacred by the Nazis and by the Soviets is appalling. The Jewish community of 3.5 million was reduced to ash.

I think all of us need to acknowledge that Poland suffered and that what was done here was not done by Poles, but done by Nazis who occupied Poland and created total destruction here. We acknowledge that victimhood and we want to make sure that all victims are treated fairly,” Carr underscored.

Our job is to make the report to Congress, that the law obligates us to report. Poland will decide internally. You have a democracy, a robust democracy where leaders can make statements, elections are coming up. We like to see democracy in action.

We’re going to make the report based on what all 46 countries that signed on to the declaration decide,” he reiterated. “Poland will decide as it sees fit to decide. But, just as Poland always wants its victimhood acknowledged, I’m sure that Poles want to be fair and make sure that all victims of the Holocaust be acknowledged,” said Carr.

Asked again about the impact the act would have on Poland, Elen Carr repeated: “That’s an internal decision of Poland. Our law in the United States doesn’t obligate Poland to do anything. We’re just going to make a report based on commitments Poland accepted in the Terezin Declaration. I think that, (given the) injustice Poland suffered, Poland would want to acknowledge the suffering of those who had their property taken. I think that fair-minded Poles would agree with that.”

“Those are issues the Polish leaders will be deciding on. It’s not for the United States to insist how Poland is going to handle this. According to the law, we have to make this report to Congress and to evaluate how every signatory to the Terezin Declaration is complying on the obligation that they themselves undertook,” he added. “All 46 countries that signed on undertook to give Holocaust victims a vehicle for having their victimhood acknowledged and having restitution of property taken. That’s something Poland took on itself and how to do that, it’s up to Poland,” said the United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semistism, Elen Carr.

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