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The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) welcomes the appointment of Ellen Germain by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the position of Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. Founded in 1999, the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues develops and implements US policy to return Holocaust era assets to their rightful owners, secure compensation for Nazi-era wrongs, and ensure that the Holocaust is remembered and commemorated appropriately.

“We look forward to working closely with Special Envoy Germain in seeking justice for Holocaust victims and their families whose property was wrongfully taken from them,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).  “Her appointment reflects the US State Department’s continuing commitment to prioritizing the resolution of remaining Holocaust era property restitution issues and support for Holocaust survivors and Jewish communities devastated by the Holocaust. WJRO values our longstanding relationships that we have developed over the years with the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, working together to ensure that the histories of the survivors not be distorted so that justice may be served.”

Last year, on July 29, the US State Department released the groundbreaking Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act Report, the US government’s first-ever comprehensive review of the state of restitution of Holocaust era assets. The report underlines that much work remains to be done to provide a measure of justice to Holocaust survivors and their heirs for property wrongfully confiscated by the Nazis and their collaborators or nationalized by the Communists in the period after World War II.

US officials at the highest levels have expressed continuing support for restitution. President Biden pledged that “the United States will continue to champion justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.” In March 2021, Secretary of State Blinken emphasized:  “We and our dedicated chiefs of mission abroad will continue to work with countries to help them meet their commitments under the 2009 Terezin Declaration [in which 47 countries committed to make every effort to rectify the consequences of wrongful property seizures .]”

Ms. Germain’s appointment was announced on September 10 by the State Department spokesperson.

Below is an excerpt:

I also have the pleasure today of introducing our new special envoy for Holocaust issues, Ellen Germain.  Ellen, who is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role.  Most recently she served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.  Established in 1999, the special envoy for Holocaust issues, part of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, works to provide a measure for justice for Holocaust victims and their families by developing and implementing U.S. policy to return Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners, ensure that the Holocaust is remembered and commemorated in a historical – a historically accurate manner, and promote Holocaust education and research. As special envoy, Ellen will contribute to the department’s mission of promoting the rule of law and combating anti-Semitism, working closely with the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.  Ellen’s assignment underscores the Secretary’s commitment to the importance of resolving historical injustices and remembering the lessons learned from the Holocaust.

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