Jewish organizations on Friday lauded British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s support for calls to Poland to provide restitution to Holocaust survivors for property seized during World War II.
In a letter last month to MP Baroness Ruth Deech, Hague stated that “the UK will continue to press for due recognition for victims” in Poland and elsewhere.
“We remain hopeful that the Polish government will revive legislation and will continue to encourage them to do so,” Hague wrote Deech. “I attach great importance to supporting the many families affected by the Holocaust. As you rightly highlight, with the passing of time the urgency of delivering appropriate and satisfactory resolution to them intensifies.”
In February a group of 50 British lawmakers demanded that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “provide restitution” to Holocaust survivors and their heirs.
Poland remains the only major European nation that has not passed some form of restitution law, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).
“We welcome this deep and heartfelt commitment of the foreign secretary and the British government to this critical struggle for fairness and for the recognition of history,” WJRO chair of operations Gideon Taylor said in a statement issued jointly with the Board of Deputies.
Board president Vivian Wineman also praised Hague, saying the Jewish body “looks forward to working closely with the foreign secretary in these efforts to bring justice while survivors are still alive.”
British government spokesman Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon previously called Holocaust restitution “key to the concerns of the UK.”
Hague stated that Sir Andrew Burns, his envoy for post-Holocaust issues, would continue to raise the issue of material compensation with Polish authorities “at every opportunity.”
According to the WJRO, Baroness Deech responded to Hague’s letter by stating: “We are looking for him to encourage action during the UK chairmanship of the International Holocaust Alliance.”
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