U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (NJ R-Dist. 4) and Leonard Lance (NJ R-Dist. 7) led 42 bipartisan lawmakers in a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing support for the restitution of Jewish property seized across Europe during the Holocaust. They also urged the State Department to continue efforts to address the issue swiftly and in collaboration with the legislative branch.
The letter was initiated by the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which is seeking to expedite the restitution process while survivors are still alive.
“Beyond the physical and emotional trauma they suffered 70 years ago, and the impact that trauma continues to have on their lives, many Holocaust survivors in the United States and around the world live in poverty while knowing the property that was stolen from them and their family remains in the hands of governments and private owners who have no rightful claim,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.
The letter also urges nations who signed the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues — including Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Serbia — to fully address the restitution of Jewish property.
Also signing the letter were NJ Reps. Albio Sires (D-Dist. 8) and Bill Pascrell (D-Dist. 9).
This week, Smith also introduced a resolution calling for actions to support Jewish groups in Europe that focus on community security. The resolution urges the White House to work closely with European governments, law enforcement agencies, and intergovernmental organizations to partner with such groups.