08.05.19

Baldwin, Rubio Lead 86 Senators in Calling on Secretary Pompeo to Urge Poland to Support Restitution for Holocaust Victims and Their Families

Senators to Pompeo: “We encourage you to pursue bold initiatives to help Poland to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) led 86 bipartisan Senators in calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge Poland to take action to secure compensation for, or the return of, property that was wrongfully seized by the Nazis and subsequently nationalized by the Communists. In total, 88 Senators signed the letter, including the entire Senate Democratic Caucus.

“The United States and Poland have a strong relationship dating back to the American Revolutionary War that continues today through our NATO partnership. Our alliance is not only based on shared interests, but also the deep affinity between our peoples, who aspire to common ideals. One of those ideals, respect for private property rights, is foundational to the success of democracies.

“That is why we were heartened by your public statement in Warsaw in February calling on Poland to take appropriate steps to restitute private property belonging to Holocaust victims, their families and others from whom it was confiscated during the Communist era,” wrote the Senators in their letter. “Prime Minister Morawiecki’s response to your comments, in which he said that Poland has “resolved” this issue, was deeply troubling. As you know, the issue has not been resolved, nor will it go away.”

The Senators continued, “Now is the time, while the last Holocaust survivors are still alive, to back up our words with meaningful action. We encourage you to pursue bold initiatives to help Poland to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

Senators Baldwin and Rubio also co-authored the bipartisan JUST Act which was signed into law last year, and would improve efforts assisting Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims by requiring the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries on the return of—or restitution for—wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets.

The full letter to Secretary Pompeo is available here.

“The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) welcomes the resounding call by 88 Senators – led by Senators Baldwin and Rubio -- for Poland to restitute property to Holocaust victims and their families,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). “Time is of the essence. With fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors alive today, Poland must urgently address this historic wrong.”

“This letter demonstrates that the United States Congress has not forgotten about Holocaust survivors and remains steadfast in pursuing justice for them,” said Eric Gallagher, WJRO Washington Representative. “Senators Baldwin and Rubio are tireless champions for the rights of survivors and we cannot thank them enough for their bold leadership.”

“My family and I are grateful to Senators Tammy  Baldwin and Marco Rubio, and the other Senators for calling for justice for me and other Holocaust survivors,” said Nate Taffel, 91, a Holocaust survivor living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “My family’s home in Radomy?l Wielki, Poland was wrongfully taken from us during the Holocaust, and it would mean so much to me to have Poland finally correct this terrible injustice.”

“I lost my entire family in the Holocaust and I survived the Warsaw ghetto.  I still have the deeds to two properties in Warsaw.  Poland should be more responsive to thousands of Holocaust survivors who are seeking justice for property that was stolen from them,” said Norman Trysk-Frajman, 89, a Holocaust survivor living in Boynton Beach, Florida. “I want to personally thank Senators Tammy Baldwin and Marco Rubio, and all the other Senators for making property restitution in Poland a priority.”