Published: January 27, 2018
On December 12, 2017, US Senate passed the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act of 2017, S. 447. A related House Bill H.R.1226 was introduced in the US House of Representatives on February 27, 2017 and is now before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
The texts of the two bills are similar. The Bills call on “countries of particular concern” relative to the Holocaust Era assets to: 1) return to the rightful owner any property, including religious or communal property that was wrongfully seized or transferred; 2) provide property or compensation for heirless property in order to assist needy Holocaust survivors, to support Holocaust education, and for other purposes.
Poland is the primery target of the Holocaust Era restitution campaign in the United States
Poland is the primary target of H.R. 1226 and S. 447 because about half of the amount claimed by the Holocaust Era restitution proponents are against Poland. In 2007, leaders of the Jewish restitution groups estimated their claims against Poland at $65 billion.1/ This amount far exceeds the total amount of Jewish private property claims against Poland estimated at $1 billion by the Times of Israel.2/ Therefore, the Jewish restitution groups leading the Holocaust Era restitution effort could demand the compensation for heirless property in Poland in the amount of more than $60 billion under the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act of 2017 on Holocaust Era assets and other issues S. 447 and H.R. 1226 (“Holocaust Assets Act”).
That is what the Holocaust Assets Act does by providing: that “in the case of heirless property, the provision of property or compensation [shall be provided] to assist needy Holocaust survivors, to support Holocaust education, and for other purposes.” Clearly, heirless property claims under the Holocaust Assets Act could be levied on Poland without any limitations or constraints. In April 1996, during a discussion about the restitution of Jewish communal property that had been seized during the Holocaust, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress Israel Singer stated that "more than three million Jews died in Poland, and the Polish people are not going to be the heirs of the Polish Jews. We are never going to allow this. (...) They're gonna hear from us until Poland freezes over again." If Poland did not satisfy Jewish claims it would be "publicly attacked and humiliated in the international forum,” Singer said according to the Reuters report.3/ Hence, restitution claims for heirless property under the Holocaust Assets Act could be used for political blackmailing, isolation and humiliation in order to harm Poland.
Obviously such enormous claims would undermine Poland’s financial stability and cause tremendous economic hardship to the Polish people.4/ Therefore, anyone who considers supporting H.R. 1226 must be mindful that such misguided attempts to rectify old grievances by creating explosive new grievances is reckless and counterproductive. Endorsing and legalizing injustice under the pretense of seeking justice poisons ethnic relations in the United States and is detrimental to building international peace and security in Europe.
Despite her heroic and proud history of staunch resistance to Nazi Germany and unsurpassed track record of a loyal ally of the United States in WWII and beyond, Poland is today brutally attacked in the United States as a German collaborator in the Holocaust (Shoah): Below are just examples.
1. Concentration camps built and operated by Nazi Germany, in which millions of ethnic Poles were brutally murdered, are notoriously portrayed as “Polish concentration camps.” Hence, the public is taught that the Polish people were the concentration camp murderers not their victims.
2. By calling Holocaust perpetrators only “Nazis,” the Holocaust scholars exclude Germans but include “other Nazis” as Holocaust perpetrators. For example, by labeling ethnic Poles as Nazis, they open the door to portraying the Polish victims of Nazi Germany WWII genocide as Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust.
3. Developing, spreading and supporting untrue, unjust and highly offensive allegations of Polish co-responsibility for the Holocaust is a racist and immoral process bearing marks of operant conditioning.5/
4. Launching an international campaign of turning victims of the German WWII genocide of ethnic Poles (“Polonocaust”) into perpetrators of the Holocaust is a highly deceitful and harmful attempt of turning victims into villains!
5. Attempts to introduce unprecedented legislative measures in the United States to greatly harm Poland economically and destroy her good name by holding her responsible for German and Soviet crimes in WWII through the Holocaust Assets Act are detrimental to the interests of the United States and peace and security in Europe.
6. At the same time not supporting WWII reparation claims that Poland raises against Germany while supporting reparation claims of others harmed by Germany against Poland is discriminatory, offending to the Polish-American community, and detrimental to the Polish-American relations.
In such a manipulative, highly charged anti-Polish context, the United States Congress is about to request that Poland provide billions of dollars to support Holocaust education and for “other purposes” determined by the patently biased World Jewish Congress and subjective representatives of the Jewish community.
Why Poland is disparaged for reforming the post-communist court system?
Today, WWII-era individual private property claims, whether Jewish or Polish, must be pursued through Polish courts. After the demise of communism, Poland made some efforts to return the former Jewish properties confiscated by the Nazis and Communists. This process was neither fast nor smooth, but neither was property restitution for Christian Poles. Many of them are still awaiting the return of their property.6/ The process has been difficult as is the case with the lustration efforts i.e. the process of removing communist criminals and their collaborators from power. The successors of the Communist Party, emboldened by a deal with Walesa faction of the Solidarity Movement, had appropriated a significant chunk of state property and have vested interests in blocking property restitution. By controlling the Polish court system, the post-communists have been able to influence the process of private property restitution.
That is why in 2017 the Polish government led by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo undertook a heroic effort to reform the Polish judiciary in order to eliminate vestiges of the communist scheme and modernize the court system. This very much needed reform that enjoyed wide public support was fiercely attacked by the Polish post-communists and their backers from Brussels as an assault on democratic values of the European Union. Even the US State Department joined the choir. Yet, these condemnations of Poland for violation of democracy in fact condemn the very attempt of Poland to improve the administration of justice, including the streamlining of private property compensation claims.7/
This undeserved, politically motivated attack on Poland’s legitimate efforts to improve the judicial system is contrary to the interest of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance. Positive action on property issues was one of the criteria used to judge the progress of countries that aspired to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership.8/ The European Union also recognizes the relevance of private property issues in applicant countries. Non-discriminatory, effective property procedures are also of crucial importance to a healthy market economy.
The massive disparagement of Poland in the Western media for introducing the legitimate modern judiciary reform is totally without merits. To the Polish people, such loud, anti-Polish, meritless campaign is reminiscent of the Goebbels’ war of nerves on Poland before the war. Hence to many, this phony assault on Poland signals the imperialistic resurgence of Germany and Russia.
Poland is attacked for being the strongest ally of the United States in Europe
Poland, the primary victim of WWII, was not among the winners of this war despite being the most faithful member of the victorious Allied Coalition. As a result of Yalta and Potsdam agreements, Poland lost 20 percent of its pre-war territory and found itself under callous Soviet domination and control for half a century.
Poland was the most exploited country by Nazi Germany in WWII.9/ After the war, Poland became a satellite of the Soviet Union and continued to be exploited. As a Soviet loot, Poland was effectively deprived of any WWII reparations.
Upon the demise of the Soviet Union, the loudly proclaimed “end of history” never took place. Instead, it has become painfully clear that imperial ambitions of Poland’s powerful neighbors, Russia and Germany, did not subside. To the contrary, they are re-emerging with unsettling familiarity. And it is Poland who has the courage and determination to stand up against this resurgence of imperialism in Europe.
As the leadership of the European Union places its allegiance in Berlin and not in its constituency, it becomes clear that the European Union of early XXI century serves as a modern tool of rebuilding the German empire. This goal can be achieved only by weakening the influence of the United States in Europe in general, and over Germany in particular. Poland sounds the alarm about the danger of the transformation of the European Union into the German Union of European States.10/
Today Poland is the key ally of the United States in germanized Europe. It is also Poland that is the most important pro-American voice in the European Union. As the leader of the Intermarium region, Poland leads the resistance to the transformation of the European Union into the German Union of European States. As a result, Poland has been severely punished for standing up against the German power wielded via Brussels and resurgent Russia.
- Several attempts to overthrow by force the democratically elected government in Poland have been undertaken with the encouragement of pro-Brussels media and the financial support from abroad.11/
- The pro-Brussels media conduct anti-Polish campaigns around the clock, spreading groundless allegations of violations of democracy and the rule of law in Poland.12/
- Pro-Berlin politicians of the European Union initiated drastic measures of Art. 7 of the Treaty on European Union against Poland on bogus political grounds in order to deprive Poland of its voice in the European Union and punish her financially.
- Attempts are being made to harm Poland economically by pressuring international rating agencies to downgrade Poland’s ratings.
- Germany pushes for the German-Russian gas pipeline to Europe through Nord Stream 2 at the expense of other European countries and the United States. Poland leads the opposition to the German-Russian energy domination in Europe that excludes other countries.
- Significant attempts are being made to weaken NATO in Europe by developing alternative armed forces of the European Union.
- A major anti-Polish offensive in the United States aims at stopping the NATO-led protection of Poland’s eastern borders, and in particular blocking the Polish-American military cooperation and deployment of US troops to Poland.
Many agents of Russian and German influence who effectively shape public opinion in the United States are actively promoting anti-Polish agenda in the leading American media. For example in an article prominently featured in the Foreign Policy, a biomedical scientist Alex Berezow allegedly concerned with violations of democracy in Poland recommends as punitive measures the withholding of the Raytheon’s Patriot missile defense system to Poland. Concerned with American-led NATO troops that recently arrived roughly 35 miles from Poland’s border with Russia, Berezow calls for the withdrawal of US troops if Poland does not reverse course on its “democratic backsliding.” He even recommends cancelling the missile shield deal altogether.13/ In other words, he calls for the reversal of all key pillars of the American foreign policy in Europe due to alleged “democratic backsliding” in Poland.
This propaganda warfare against Poland is reminiscent of the time leading to the outbreak of WWII, when Nazi Germany unleashed a massive propaganda campaign against Poland in the West in order to isolate and paralyze its target of military aggression. In August 1939 Hitler proclaimed: “There will be war. Our task is to isolate Poland. The success of the isolation will be decisive. . . The isolation of Poland is a matter of skillful politics." 14/
This “skillful politics” was the propaganda warfare over alleged persecution of the German minority in Poland staged by the German minority itself. While German provocations in Poland unfolded, Goering worked hard on isolating Poland and persuading Great Britain not to stand by their commitments to Poland. Germany undertook great efforts to deter the British Government from their opposition to Germany's seizure of Poland. The propaganda warfare against Poland was conducted by Nazi Germany solely for the purpose of preventing Great Britain and France from honoring their mutual defense obligations to Poland at the time of the German attack on Poland.
Hitler knew that Poland would fight. Indeed, “Poland chose not to become a nation of herders for the German cattle in the Ural Mountains, or guards at extermination camps for Jews that any compromise with Hitler would have brought, nor did it become the 17th republic of a “fraternal” Soviet Union. Life was lost, that is the awful truth, by millions of Polish citizens, simply people. Poland also suffered massive material losses, never compensated by the aggressors.”15/
The current massive weaponized propaganda against Poland is painfully reminiscent of anti-Polish propaganda that advanced Russian and German military objectives before and during early stages of WWII. The introduction in the US Congress of the Holocaust Assets Act that aims primarily at Poland at the time when Germany and Russian conduct information warfare against Poland clearly strengthens this assault and wakens Poland.
The Polish Americans urge their Representatives in the United States Congress to recognize that the on-going frontal attack on Poland, the key US ally in Europe, is in fact the attack on the fundamental interests of the United States in Europe. Therefore H.R. 1226 is contrary to US interests in Europe.
In 1939 brutal anti-Polish propaganda of Nazi Germany weakened the resolve of Great Britain and France to fulfill their commitments of mutual defense towards Poland. Let us draw lessons from this painful recent past and not be fooled by today’s anti-Polish propaganda that aims at isolating Poland in order to once again advance imperial ambitions of Germany and Russia at the expense of Poland and the United States.
The H.R. 1226 Team PL
1. On February 27, 2007, twenty leaders of Jewish restitution groups convened in Warsaw to advance their US$ 65 billion claim against Poland. Israel Singer, the general secretary of the World Jewish Congress who participated in this meeting stated earlier that if Poland does not satisfy Jewish claims, it will be "publicly attacked and humiliated". A Polish publicist called Singer's declaration a "declaration of war against Poland."
2. Restitution experts estimate that following the Holocaust, Jewish individuals and institutions in Poland lost property whose combined value exceeds the equivalent of $1 billion. See: “Poland to partially compensate Jewish private-owned looted property claims,” The Times of Israel, January 7, 2018; https://www.timesofisrael.com/poland-to-partially-compensate-jewish-private-owned-looted-property
3. Jewish group threatens Poland over restitution, Reuters, 19 April 1996, See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Jewish_Congress#Agreements_with_other_European_countries_on_Holocaust-era_property_restitution_and_compensation
4. P. Styrna, „The Complexity and History of Property Restitution in Poland,” Journal of property rights in transition, October 20, 2013; http://propertyrightsintransition.com/property-restitution-in-poland
5. S. McLeod, Skinner, Operant conditioning, https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
6. P. Styrna, supra.
7. M. Szonert “How about some restorative justice for post-communist societies?” Polonia Institute, October 3, 2017; www.poloniainstitute.net/news/how-about-some-restorative-justice-for-post-communist-societies
8. Property Restitution in Central and Eastern Europe, US Department of State, https://www.state.gov/p/eur/rt/hlcst/c12070.htm
9. Nuremberg Judgment: “As early as the 19th October, 1939, the defendant Goering had issued a directive giving detailed instructions for the administration of the occupied territories, it provided: "The task for the economic treatment of the various administrative regions is different. (…) There must be removed from the territories of the Government-General all raw materials, scrap materials, machines, etc., which are of use for the German war economy. Enterprises which are not absolutely necessary for the meagre maintenance of the naked existence of the population must be transferred to Germany..." https://web.archive.org/web/20150906114638/http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judwarcr.asp
10. A. Nowak, “President Lech Kaczyński Paid the Price For Telling the Truth About Russia,” Polonia Institute, http://www.poloniainstitute.net/news/president-lech-kaczynski-paid-the-price-for-telling-the-truth-about-russia/
11. On December 16, 2016 the Polish opposition with the support from Brussels attempted a coup d’etat in the Polish Parliament. Attempts to provoke riots in Poland are ongoing.
12. Allowing women to retire earlier than men is considered a violation of the values of the European Union!
13. “Another carrot involves the sale of Raytheon’s Patriot missile defense system to Poland. Last month, the Pentagon approved the sale, which came with a hefty price tag of $10.5 billion. The Poles celebrated the deal but suffered from sticker shock; they had hoped to spend only $7.6 billion. Trump could offer his skills as a businessman to talk Raytheon down. If these carrots don’t work, there are sticks that might. In January 2017, Poland welcomed U.S. soldiers on its soil, which was quite rightly characterized by the Associated Press as “fulfilling a dream some Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989.” A few months later, American-led NATO troops arrived in the town of Orzysz, roughly 35 miles from Poland’s border with Russia. If Poland does not reverse course on its democratic backsliding, Trump could threaten to remove these troops. A bigger threat would be to cancel the missile shield deal altogether.” Alex Berezow “How to Save Poland from itself,” Foreign Policy, December 27, 2017.” https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/12/27/how-to-save-poland-from-itself/
14. Nuremberg Judgment: web.archive.org/web/20150906114638/http:/avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judwarcr.asp
15. A. Nowak, supra. Prof. Nowak also asks: “Was the decision to defend independence, even against both powerful colluding neighbors, wrong? In the end, the world is larger than Germany and Russia, and their might raises opposition and counteraction on the part of even greater powers who feel threatened by them.”
Photo: Polish American Cultural Center, Philadelphia, PA.