PAC Does Not Want
The JUST Act of 2017
Applied To Poland
A dangerous United States Congressional Resolution for Poland soon may be enacted. The full title of this resolution is: “Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017”. This resolution, the JUST ACT OF 2017 has two components: Senate Resolution 447 (S. 447), BILL_S_447 and House of Representatives Resolution 1226 (H.R. 1226) BILL_HR_1226.
The United States Senate voted-up without opposition, on 12 December 2017, S. 447. Now the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives is considering H.R. 1226.
In a general way, the JUST ACT OF 2017 requires the United States Government to observe how 46 countries are fulfilling their obligations to implement numerous agreements on compensation and/or restitution of both private and communal moveable and immovable property, and other commitments, like the maintenance of historic sites and monuments.
The specific purpose of the JUST ACT OF 2017 is: “To require reporting on acts of certain foreign countries on Holocaust era assets and related issues, and for other purposes.” This would require the United States Government to observe and monitor, pressure is a more honest description, compliance by Poland and other countries that participated in the Prague Holocaust Era Conference’s Terezin Declaration (2009).
Poland is the principal target of the JUST ACT OF 2017, because the largest portion of private property formerly owned by Jews (which amounts to 20% of the total of despoiled and nationalized private property), and now claimed by Jewish individuals and organizations, is located in today’s Poland. This private property on conquered Polish territory, called World War II era private property, was first despoiled by Nazi Germany and then nationalized by the communists. Compensation payments to redress these crimes against private property should be sent to Berlin and Moscow, not Warsaw.
Moreover, Poland already satisfied, by acceding to a 1960 bilateral treaty, all claims for private property in Poland owned by United States citizens before September 1, 1939. Today, the United States Congress and the Office of Holocaust Issues in the Department of State is pressuring Poland to pay lump-sum compensation on behalf of transnational Jewish organizations like the World Jewish Congress, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The World Jewish Congress recently opened an office in Warsaw. This pressure on Poland is unwarranted. The exceptional role of Poland and the Poles in World War II and her armed resistance to the imposition of communist dictatorship by the Soviet Army makes a moral and historical case for NOT applying deleting H.R. 1226 to Poland.
Two members of the House of Represenatives introduced H.R. 1226: Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY14), and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ4). In 2008 Congressman Crowley introduced a House of Representatives Resolution calling on Poland to pay lump-sum compensation for World War II era Jewish private property. In 1991, Congressman Smith organized the Congressional Caucus on Poland to pressure Poland into paying lump-sum compensation. Moreover, in 2005, Congressman Smith introduced a House of Representatives Resolution calling on Poland to pay lump-sum compensation.
This is why the President of the Polish American Congress (PAC), Mr. Frank J. Spula, wrote a forceful letter, addressed to Chairman Ed Royce, and by extension his 46 colleagues serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This letter strongly encourages these 47 members of the House of Representatives NOT TO APPLY H.R. 1226 to Poland. If they ignore this sound advice from the PAC, then Polish Americans will not vote to re-elect these members of the House of Representatives on 6 November 2018 in Congressional Elections.
Polish American Congress
Please read below the letter that President Spula sent to Chairman Royce
January 5, 2018
The Honorable Ed Royce
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Dear Chairman Royce:
The POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS represents the interests of Americans of Polish heritage who are convinced that their ancestral country, Poland, as a key NATO ally, protects United States national security interests in Central and Eastern Europe and promotes the values of freedom and limited government in that dangerous part of the world.
S. Res. 447, known as the JUST ACT OF 2017, includes Poland among countries, which were Axis allies during World War II, such as Romania and Hungary. A parallel resolution H.R. 1226 is under consideration by your committee. It also appears to ignore, or evade, moral and historical principles of high importance, with the result that H.R. conflates victims with villains.
Poland’s unique circumstances, as a victim nation of German and Soviet aggression in September 1939, which started World War II by virtue of the mutually-planned and executed Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, need to be recognized by Congress in these matters. The language of HR 1226 proposes that claims (under Terezin Declaration definitions) could be made against today’s Polish State for crimes today’s Poles did not commit. Stunningly, this completely ignores that the monstrous crimes perpetrated on Polish territory by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were followed by massive property transfers carried out directly by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Indeed, Poland’s history from 1795 to 1918 found her wiped from the map of Europe by way of the infamous three Partitions of 1772, 1793, and 1795 that had been engineered by her contiguous imperial neighbors, Russia, Austria, and Prussia (the latter nation being an integral progenitor of Nazi Germany).
Moreover, the issue of wartime compensation to be paid to Poland as a victim (as identified by the International Military Tribunal – Nuremberg Proceedings) is entirely unresolved. These two factors make Poland’s case unique, and materially different from other East Central European countries, like Hungary and Romania, both having been loyal allies of Nazi Germany.
Today, claims for private property compensation in Poland are decided case by case. This fact alone should give pause to anyone considering imposing on today’s Poland a one-size-fits-all general law on compensation for private property despoiled by Nazi Germany and then nationalized by the communists.
Poland already has compensated all United States citizens who owned private property in Poland before September 1, 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded our kin country. This was done in compliance with the 1960 Bilateral Treaty signed by Poland and the United States. Moreover, in Poland, all claims submitted for compensation by children and grand children (as real persons) of people who lost property have been adjudicated and have been paid.
Clearly, the purpose of H.R.1226 appears to be the extension of this to other entities or persons as well, an approach that suggests it being an unreasonable and arbitrary overreach by the United States Congress.
The House version of the JUST Act of 2017, H.R. 1226, unjustly conflates the role of Poland and the Poles in World War II with countries that were Axis allies. By contrast, in North Africa, and in Western Europe, and in occupied Poland, from start to finish in World War II, Polish armed forces fought Nazi Germany as a full state ally of our own United States of America.
There was no collaborationist Nazi German satellite state on Polish territory.
The claimants’ bill for their despoiled and nationalized private property on conquered Polish territory during the World War II era should be presented not to the victim nation — Poland — but to the perpetrators, Germany and the Russian Federation, the latter as successor of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Informed readers recall that the Soviet Union, as an ally of Nazi Germany, invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, two weeks following Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. Both invasions were not accidental, but rather, mutually orchestrated aspects of the infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.
It is unjust to lay the groundwork, political or otherwise, to require today’s Polish society to pay extravagant sums to legacy organizations related to victims of loss of private property or that despoiled by Nazi Germany and then nationalized by a regime indisputably established by Soviet communists.
This amounts to a perverse collective punishment of today’s Poles for crimes of private property expropriation perpetrated by Nazi Germany and the communists on conquered Polish territory. Again, Poland has already undertaken a good faith effort, under strict rule of law, to address these matters.
Clearly, further investigation of facts, or hearings, should occur before action is taken. This is why I encourage you to ask the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee not to apply H.R.1226 to Poland.
The POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS, which represents Polish American organizations and communities, wants the House Foreign Affairs Committee thoughtfully to address our concern that our ancestral country Poland receives just and equitable treatment from the United States Government. Our sincere wish is to prevent this issue from becoming one that Polish Americans would come to feel has to be redressed at the ‘ballot box’. Those who vote for the application of the JUST ACT OF 2017 to Poland, which is most UNJUST to our ancestral country, run that risk.
Your gracious consideration, and hopefully, support, will be appreciated greatly by our nation’s Polish American Community.
Frank J. Spula
Polish American Congress