US SECRETARY OF STATE BLINKEN TO WJRO & CLAIMS CONFERENCE: “I ASSURE YOU THAT I WILL KEEP HIGH ON MY AGENDA RESOLUTION OF REMAINING HOLOCAUST-ERA PROPERTY RESTITUTION ISSUES, AS WELL AS SUPPORT FOR SURVIVORS AND JEWISH COMMUNITIES DEVASTATED BY THE HOLOCAUST”
Blinken Pledges to Work with WJRO and Claims Conference to Help Countries Meet Holocaust Property Restitution Commitments
New York, NY (March 15, 2021) Today, Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and President, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), released a letter from US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken that powerfully stated that he will prioritize resolution of remaining Holocaust-era property restitution issues and support for survivors and Jewish communities devastated by the Holocaust.
“Secretary Blinken’s letter, at the beginning of his tenure, is a passionate articulation of the Biden Administration’s prioritization of justice and support for Holocaust survivors and Jewish communities devastated by the Holocaust,” said Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations, WJRO and President of the Claims Conference. “Now is the time to resolve outstanding Holocaust-era property issues. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration in seeking justice for Holocaust survivors and their families.”
“As the Head of the US delegation to the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague where 47 countries issued the Terezin Declaration, it is deeply meaningful that Secretary Blinken, on behalf of the Biden Administration, continues to pursue justice for Holocaust survivors through every means possible, including property restitution, compensation, and social services so Holocaust survivors can live out their remaining years in greater dignity. It is equally important to ensure the support for continued education on the Holocaust and its contemporary lessons. Seventy-six years after the Holocaust, time is of the essence for survivors and their families to receive a measure of justice,” said Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator.
“As we work to provide a measure of justice for Holocaust survivors living around the world, ensuring they live these final years with dignity is our main priority and the unwavering support of the State Department and this administration is critical to these efforts. We remain deeply grateful for the partnership,” said Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).
Secretary Blinken’s letter includes:
- Justice for survivors seeking Holocaust-era property restitution: “It is troubling and unacceptable that the work of restitution or providing a measure of compensation for property wrongfully seized during the Holocaust is still not complete in so many countries.”
- Strong support for Holocaust survivors: “We will advocate for the Claims Conference as it seeks support for the welfare of survivors.”
- To urge countries accountable to fulfill their promises: “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 [on Holocaust Era Assets].”
- Commends WJRO’s January 27 historic signing of agreement with Luxembourg on Holocaust era restitution issues: “Those countries can follow the lead of Luxembourg, whose recent agreement with the WJRO and the country’s Jewish community demonstrates outstanding leadership.”
- Looks forward to working with WJRO and Claims Conference
On International Holocaust Remember Day, on his first day as Secretary of State, Blinken (who is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor) offered a bold call for justice in the memory of the millions who were murdered during the Holocaust: “That’s why it’s so important that we speak the truth about the past, to protect the facts when others try to distort or trivialize Holocaust crimes, and to seek justice for the survivors and their families,” Sec. Blinken said in his video message. “Every day that I serve as Secretary of State, I will carry the memory of my stepfather and his family and the six million Jewish people and millions of others who were killed during the Holocaust.”
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