Raise restitution issue in Poland, group asks Obama


(JTA) — President Obama should raise the issue of restitution of private Jewish property during his meeting this week with Polish officials, a Jewish group has urged.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization made the request two days before Obama meets Friday with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The request follows a similar one contained in a letter to Obama from U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), chairs of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission).

“A country that has not properly addressed its past is not truly free to move into the future,” said David Peleg, the director of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. “We ask President Obama to raise this issue of profound and basic justice with the Polish government. Stolen property must be returned. We call on Prime Minister Tusk to resume the legislative process for restitution, as he has promised.”

Poland remains the only major country from the former Soviet bloc that has no law providing for the restitution of or compensation for private property stolen during the Holocaust.

Tusk said recently that Poland’s difficult economic position would prevent the legislation proposed by the government from receiving support. 

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