Senate passes bill to help Holocaust survivors obtain restitution
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Senate passes bill to help Holocaust survivors obtain restitution

JUST Act requires US State Department to report on progress of certain European countries toward returning confiscated or transferred assets

A Holocaust survivor shows her number tattoo. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images via JTA)
A Holocaust survivor shows her number tattoo. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images via JTA)

The Senate unanimously passed a bill to help Holocaust survivors and the families of victims obtain restitution or the return of Holocaust-era assets.

The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST Act, which was introduced in February by senators Tammy Baldwin, Democrat-Wisc., and Marco Rubio, Republican-Fla., received unanimous approval on Tuesday,

The measure requires the US State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries toward the return of or restitution for wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets, including property, art and other movable property. It also requires a report specifically on progress on the resolution of claims for US citizen Holocaust survivors and family members.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) addresses the Anti-Defamation League annual National Summit at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC on May 9, 2017 (screen capture)

The World Jewish Restitution Organization praised the bill’s passage, urging that it be signed into law this year.

“Through this legislation, the United States will help survivors achieve a small measure of justice for the wrongful seizure of their property during the Holocaust,” the organization’s chair of operations, Gideon Taylor, said Tuesday in a statement. “Now is the time – while the remaining survivors are alive – for countries to provide restitution.”

The JUST Act is designed to build on the international Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues of 2009, which affirms the protection of property rights and recognizes the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations.

US Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin (Public Domain, Amy Mathers for the Department of Justice, Wikimedia Commons)

Several nations that endorsed the Terezin Declaration have not fully addressed the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property, co-sponsors Baldwin and Rubio have said.

A companion bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in February by senators Joseph Crowley, Democrat-N.Y., and Christopher Smith, Republican-N.J.

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