Holocaust victims included in Belarus-US pact preserving cultural heritage of ethnic groups


(JTA) — Belarus and the United States signed an agreement to preserve and protect the cultural properties of all ethnic groups, including those of Holocaust victims.

Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makai and the chair of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Lesley Weiss, signed the agreement Wednesday at the World Jewish Congress headquarters in New York.

“Each party will take appropriate steps to protect and preserve properties that represent the cultural heritage of all national, religious, or ethnic groups that reside or resided in its territory, including groups that were victims of genocide during the Second World War,” the agreement reads.

After signing the agreement, Makai said: “The agreement will allow for the American donors to contribute to preserving historic and cultural heritage in Belarus that bears significance, first of all, for the American Jewish community. The agreement is a sign of improved political relations between our countries.”

Weiss said: “The annihilation of European Jewry during the Holocaust and the disregard of religious concerns by Communist dictatorships prompted the United States to seek agreements with the governments of the region to ensure the free exercise of religious beliefs and to preserve the cultural heritage of Americans.”

It is the 25th such agreement that the United States has entered into with countries from Eastern and Central Europe.

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