World U.S. Says Poland Legislation Preventing Holocaust Restitution Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm'
Man injured when falling off Berlin's Holocaust Memorial
BERLIN (AP) — A young man was severely injured Sunday when he fell off a slab that's part of the German capital’s memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust. The 21-year-old tourist, whose name was not released in line with German privacy rules, fell several meters (feet) early Sunday and was taken to the hospital with head injuries, the German news agency dpa reported. Police were still investigating the cause of the accident, dpa reported. Local Berlin media said the young man was an Italian tourist who had underestimated the height when jumping off the slab, which was in an unlit part of the memorial.
The U.S. said the Polish legislation could cause "irreparable harm" if they continue preventing restitution to Holocaust victims and their families, the Associated Press reported.
The day before the one-year anniversary of the release of a congressionally mandated report tracking European progress in adjudicating Holocaust claims, Cherrie Daniels, the U.S. 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."
Poland says Belarus is taking away migrants at border camp
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish government official said Wednesday that migrants who have spent days in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of Poland's eastern border are being taken away by bus by Belarusian officials. Since Nov. 8 a large group of people from the Middle East has been stuck at a border crossing with Poland, hoping to enter Europe. Most are fleeing conflict or hopelessness at home and aim to reach Germany or other western European countries. © Provided by Associated Press Migrants settle for the night in the logistics center in the checkpoint "Kuznitsa" at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
The U.S. reported Wednesday that Poland is the only country in Europe to have regressed over the past year in committing to returning seized properly or provide compensation for victims and their families.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The public admonishment is likely to anger Polish authorities, who have rejected previous criticism on the matter.
The issue is one of several points of friction that have arisen or gotten worse between Washington and Warsaw since the Biden administration has been in office. Others include differences over the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline and a proposed restrictive media law.
The proposed compensation law, which may be enacted in August, has already been denounced by Israel, Jewish groups and the U.S. That report called out several nations but was particularly critical of Poland.
Poland's PM to hold talks in Europe on border crisis
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Saturday he is to hold a series of talks in Europe about the pressure of migrants on the European Union’s border with Belarus, a crisis that he expects will continue. Morawiecki said he was meeting on Sunday with his counterparts from EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which have also been hit by the migrant pressure in recent months, though to a lesser degree. During the week he is to travel to some other European countries, which he did not name.
If adopted, the law would prevent property ownership and other administrative decisions from being declared void after 30 years, which would mean that pending proceedings involving communist-era property confiscations would be discontinued and dismissed. It affects Polish, Jewish and other property that are subject to contested previous determinations.
Poland says it's a response to fraud and irregularities that have emerged in the restitution process, leading to evictions or giving real estate to property dealers. Authorities insist restitution claims will still be possible through courts, regardless of the claimants' nationality or place of residence.
But those explanations have been rejected by both the U.S. and Israel, which has said adoption of the law would cause grave damage to Polish-Israeli relations.
"We are disappointed that the Polish government and the opposition seems too often to purposely conflate property restitution or compensation with (WWII) reparations," Daniels said. "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."
Lukashenko assails EU for refusing to hold talks on migrants
MOSCOW (AP) — Belarus' authoritarian leader on Monday chafed at the European Union for its refusal to hold talks on the influx of migrants on the country's border with Poland. President Alexander Lukashenko urged Germany to accommodate about 2,000 migrants who had remained on the border with Poland and criticized EU officials for refusing to negotiate an end to the standoff. “We must demand that the Germans take them,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with officials.
Daniels, Israeli officials and others like the World Jewish Restitution Organization and World Jewishhave called for Poland to enact a comprehensive law or establish a procedure that deals with the compensation issue, which becomes more urgent with each passing year due to the death of aging Holocaust survivors.
The State Department has identified six countries where significant compensation concerns have still not been addressed, but of those, only Poland has regressed, according to Daniels. The others are Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.
Before World War II, Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community of some 3.5 million people. Most were killed in the Holocaust under Nazi Germany's occupation and their property was confiscated. Poland's postwar communist authorities seized those properties, along with the property of non-Jewish owners in Warsaw and other cities. The end of communism in 1989 opened the door to restitution claims, most of which would be coming from Poles.
Poland is the only European country that has not offered any compensation for private property seized by the state in its recent history. Only the remaining communal Jewish property, like some synagogues, prayer houses and cemeteries, mostly in disrepair, have been returned where possible or compensated for.
Doctor in Poland Goes on Iraq TV, Pleads for Kurds to Avoid Illegal Immigration Path to EU
Dr. Arsalan Azzaddin has treated migrants from the Belarus-Poland border suffering from hypothermia, pneumonia, broken bones and severe dehydration. Hoping to stop what has grow into a very deadly migration route now being shut off, he asked a Kurdish TV station to let him go on the news to warn people back in his homeland not to attempt the illegal route into the European Union through Belarus and Poland. Dr. Arsalan Azzaddin, who is originally from Iraq, told the AP he was treating migrants from his homeland and Syria every day.
The still-unresolved matter has been a constant source of bitterness and political tension between Poland and Israel as well as the United States, which has pressed the Poles to address it through successive administrations and called them out publicly for a lack of progress.
The year-old report was mandated by Congress in a law known as the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST, Act, which was signed by former Presidentin 2018 with the support of many lawmakers from both political parties and Jewish groups.
Both Secretary of Stateand his predecessor, , have made combatting anti-Semitism a priority. Last month, Blinken and his German counterpart signed an agreement to begin a formal U.S.-Germany Holocaust Dialogue to ensure that the lessons of the Nazi era are not forgotten as the number of survivors dwindle.
The matter unexpectedly surfaced again at the State Department this week when a swastika carved into an elevator was discovered on Monday at the agency's main headquarters in Washington. Blinken, the stepson of a Holocaust survivor who was raised in the Jewish tradition, condemned the vandalism and said it was a sign that the fight against anti-Semitism must be "relentless."
Massachusetts Lawmakers Approve Bill on Holocaust Education Amid Rise in Antisemitism .
If enacted, a Genocide Education Trust Fund would be made under the bill to help create teaching materials and give training for educators.Republican Governor Charlie Baker must decide within 10 days to sign the measure into legislation. The state does not have any education requirements about genocides in its curriculum currently.