Statement on the visit of President Duda to the White House
June 11, 2019
We publish the statement on the coming visit of President Duda to the United States. We express our concern over flawed and unjust Act S. 447 (public law 115-171) and appeal to President Trump and President Duda to address the issue during their talks in the White House. Polish American organizations wishing to be added as signatories of the statement are kindly requested to contact Edward Wojciech Jesman, President & National Director of the Polish American Congress of Southern California at 310-291-2681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
STATEMENT OF POLISH AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
ON THE VISIT OF THE PRESIDENT OF POLAND, ANDRZEJ DUDA
TO THE WHITE HOUSE
The visit of the President of Poland, Dr. Andrzej Duda and his wife Mrs. Agata Kornhauser-Duda to the White House on June 12, 2019 reaffirms the longstanding historical ties between the United States and Poland and underlines the commitment of President Donald Trump to strengthening of the partnership between the United States and Poland. Polish-Americans applaud the upcoming visit and hope that the meeting of the presidents will pave the way for the further development of a mutually beneficial trade relationship as well as for the firming up regional, European security arrangements.
We, also wish to convey to both leaders our growing concern over various issues which are threatening the harmonious political and economic cooperation between the United States and Poland.
There is a disturbingly growing number of politically motivated, and often racist, media attacks on Poland and the dignity of Polish people in the United States and abroad; that is being spread among the public to create a false “moral leverage” in order to justify the demands of extralegal transfers of Polish property to “restitution” organizations.
Poland’s WWII history is regularly distorted not only by the mainstream media channels, but also by State Department officials, U.S. diplomats, members of the U.S. Congress, members of academia and special interests of Jewish American “restitution” organizations. They mislead the public and harass Poland by pushing a false and deceptive narratives of “Polish death camps” and of alleged Polish “co-responsibility for the Holocaust.” They whitewash German crimes and the perpetrators by shifting focus onto “bad Poles” and they refer to Nazis without identifying them as Germans. There is no mention of the Polish nation under the most brutal German occupation and the staggering human and material losses suffered by Poland, which were proportionately greater than the losses of any other country. However, we frequently hear about “Jewish property,” allegedly stolen by “bad Poles”. Such obvious distortions about WWII create a false image of a backward, nationalistic, intolerant and anti-Semitic Poland.
The inaccurate, biased and offensive reporting about Poland seems to purposefully mix legitimate and uncontroversial real restitution issues, which are routinely handled in Poland by the courts, with new extralegal, extortionist demands to “hand over” the so-called “heirless property” or to “pay off” compensation for allegedly “stolen Jewish assets.”
Public Law 115-171, commonly known as Act S.447 and deceptively named JUST Act, is seen by many in the Polish American community and in Poland as an attack on Polish national interests, and harmful to the good relationship between Poland and the United States. Restitution of “heirless properties”, under law 115-171 is, in fact, a coerced hand out of assets to the U.S. and other foreign entities, which are completely unrelated to the deceased Polish owners and serves to promote nothing less than an act of grand scale theft legitimized by the United States!
Act S.447 enacted by the U.S. Congress in April of 2018 and signed into law by President Donald Trump, while looking superficially innocuous, tries to legitimize these extralegal claims put forth by the restitution organizations. They amount to nothing less than extortion attempts as all the properties left heirless, regardless of ethnic or religious background of deceased owners, properly and legally escheated after WWII to the Polish State. The above happened in accordance with the existing law, universally accepted legal principles and millennia-old legal traditions prevalent in the western civilization.
Further, the nationalized assets, both private and communal, were compensated on the basis of the 1960 Treaty between the United States and Poland and the Polish legislation of February 20, 1997, which established the Regulatory Commission for the restitution of Jewish communal property. The 1997 legislation facilitated the handout of over 2,500 communal properties including synagogues, cemeteries and other cultural centers to various, newly formed Jewish groups. The communal properties, sometimes totally destroyed during the war, were handed over, in most cases, in their present, rebuilt condition!
As Polish Americans, we feel compelled to ask, why the United States has produced the law, which could only undermine and detrimentally affect Poland, the United States ally?
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), one of the Jewish American restitution organizations, which has little or nothing to do with Poland and Polish deceased citizens of Jewish descent, demanded from the Polish State compensation amounting to THREE HUNDRED BILLION dollars! This is approximately triple the amount paid by Germany to Jewish interests and the State of Israel between 1953 and 2019!
Public Law 115-171 creates not only bad legal precedent violating the existing property laws but it also violates the United States Constitution itself. The Law benefits only one group of victims while ignoring the other victims who suffered identical losses of property during World War II. This preferential treatment of one group of Holocaust survivors over the other survivors of the genocides is discrimination based on religion and ethnicity.
Public Law 115-171 (Act S.447) substantially encroaches on the terms of the 1960 Treaty and Indemnification Agreement between the United States and Poland which settled claims of U.S. nationals against Poland for all properties nationalized after the war by the Communist government. Poland also signed such treaties and indemnity agreements with Canada and 12 European countries: Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Greece, Austria and Lichtenstein. It needs to be emphasized that most of the properties and assets compensated under the terms of the above agreements were previously completely destroyed or substantially despoiled, together with the surrounding infrastructure, by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.
Public Law 115-171 (Act S.447) allows duplicate compensation for heirless properties of European Jews over compensation already paid by Germany. In compliance with the obligation undertaken in Protocol No. 2 of the 1952 Luxembourg Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, assumed full responsibility for the genocidal policies inflicted by the German Third Reich and paid to Israel for the benefit of the Conference the sum of 450 million German Marks for all the properties, which were left heirless by the European Jews who perished during the WWII.
The U.S. media often conveniently forget that Poland herself was both the first victim of the German Third Reich and an easy, post-Yalta prey for Soviet Russia, which subsequently occupied, despoiled and terrorized Poland for decades. Poland has never been compensated by Germany or Russia for her human and material losses. The material losses alone, caused by the German Third Reich, were estimated recently by a working group of the Polish parliament at Eight Hundred Fifty Billion dollars.
We appeal to President Trump to make a true effort to remove the above obstacles of the distortion of Poland’s history and the new attempts to make extralegal claims under Public Law 115-171 (Act S.447), which is causing serious dissonance and impediment in the relationship between the United States and Poland, and by doing so President Trump can restore the damaged reputation of the United States in Poland. Only then, can the Polish-American partnership truly thrive and prosper.
In light of the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II later this year we would like to remind both presidents that they bear a high responsibility for preserving the historical truth and defending historical justice.
Edward Wojciech Jesman, Polish American Congress of Southern California
Urszula Oleksyn, Polonia Institute
Janusz Sporek, Conservation Committee of Katyn Monument and Historic Objects
Dariusz Rutka, Polish American Strategic Initiative, South Carolina
Szymon Tolak, Polish American Strategic Initiative, Massachusetts
Wojciech Mazur, Polish American Strategic Initiative, Connecticut
Peter Trela, Polish American Strategic Initiative, Colorado
Andrzej Prokopczuk, Polish American Congress of Northern California
Additional signatories are welcome!