State Department assesses progress in Holocaust property restitution

The 200-page report issued Wednesday was mandated by the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act, or JUST Act of 2017.

The Company for Location & Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets  (photo credit: courtesy)
The Company for Location & Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets
(photo credit: courtesy)
The State Department released a report that assesses the progress made by 46 countries on the restitution or compensation for property wrongfully seized during the Holocaust.
The 200-page report issued Wednesday was mandated by the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act, or JUST Act of 2017.
Cherrie Daniels, the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, said the report does not single out any specific countries for good efforts or no efforts.
“It reviews in a straightforward, factual manner each country’s efforts in meeting its own commitments,” she said. “For each country in all the 46 chapters, the report identifies areas where progress has been made as well as where further work is needed. So we hope that this will spur further progress, of course, as countries read through their own chapters and decide how best they can meet their own commitments.”
Daniels said her office decided to expand the report to cover not only restitution and welfare issues, but also all other aspects of the Terezin Declaration, such as Holocaust commemoration, archives and education. The 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets is a nonbinding set of guiding principles aimed at faster, more open and transparent restitution of property.
The report, which covers restitution efforts from the end of World War II until December 2019, was submitted to Congress in March, but its public release was held up due to the coronavirus pandemic, Daniels told reporters.
“Much time has passed, and the need for action is urgent,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the forward.
"As the JUST Act report makes clear, Holocaust survivors and Jewish communities continue to wait for justice for property that was wrongfully taken from them,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). “Even in these hard times, countries should live up to their pledges to address the material wrongs of the Holocaust while the remaining survivors are still alive.”
“Amid the coronavirus pandemic, all must be done to care for vulnerable Holocaust survivors, many of whom live on limited incomes and are in poor health,” continued Taylor.  “We are proud of the work that our member organizations are doing on the ground every day to assist Holocaust survivors and others during this crisis.”