A lot of fuss about nothing. The famous act 447 got published. And, even though, according to the Polish MFA, American point of view on the property restitution in Poland is slightly different from the Polish one, there is no question of Poland “fulfilling the claims”.
“Stop Jewish claims”, “plunder of Polish property” or even the “crippling construction of Polin state”. These are the ominous slogans used for the last two years to describe the JUST Act – so called in Poland “act 447”. As it turned out, those who claimed that this document has a character of an not binding report, were right. At some point Polish Internet was flooded with “analysis” and commentaries about the alleged “pay off of the claims” which were supposed to add up to “300 billion dollars”. And even though no-one has ever presented any bill, the whole case sparked emotions – at some point there was even a protest in the streets of Warsaw.
Report and nothing more
A reminder: the JUST act is a document about the property restitution of the Holocaust victims. It obliges the Secretary of State of the US to make yearly repots about the realisation of the Terezin Declaration. The declaration adopted in 2009 in the Czech Republic is a list of basic rules meant to establish the procedure of the property restoration stolen from the Jewish people during the Holocaust. The declaration was adopted by 49 states, although only in Poland it became the subject of a heated political discussion and mass disinformation. Interestingly, it had been happening for the whole time of “waiting” for the US authorities’ report. When it finally showed up last week, there was a meaningful silence. Why?
As anticipated (despite ominous comments and rumours), the Just Act does not oblige any of the enlisted countries to any changes nor to pay anything to anyone. The Polish MFA also underlined it in its statement: “The Just Act does not establish any new juridical regime for the claims; it is an internal American law. Neither Terezin Declaration, nor the JUST Act (447) are instruments that would give the legal basis to make any claims for the return of the property in Poland” – we read in the Polish MFA’s statement published by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Georgette Mosbacher, the Ambassador of the United States to Poland was also talking such shape of the reports. She said that “the act 447 will be used only for preparing of the one-time report which would not speak about what particular countries did and what they did not do. Neither it will speak about money” – she said, adding that the one-time report would not prove any further actions. – It does not dictate anything – the ambassador ensured.
The publication of the report probably ends the long period of manipulation that was continuing since “the revealing of the attempts at Poland”, as the JUST Act has been presented for months. And even though, as we read on the PAP website, “Poland and other countries have been pointed out as those which still did not adopted complex legislation for the restitution of the national property or indemnities for the Holocaust-related seizures”, the case is closed.
The Polish MFA pointed out that Poland “provides for anyone, regardless of their citizenship or origins, on equal terms, the possibility to claim their right to the lost property”, stating also that the international law does not establish the universal standards or procedures in this matter nor does it oblige states to adopt particular legislations. – Those are sovereign decisions of each state – the MFA stated categorically.
At the same time Polish authorities stated: “Polish law allows former owners or their lawful successors to claim the rights for a real estate on administrative way or in the court. Every legal claimant can use these procedures. After the political transformation, Poland has introduced the adequate legal instruments and procedures that allow to reclaim the property or to obtain the compensation and dedicated significant financial resources to this purpose. This is a great effort and the Polish state does not try avoid it, regardless of the citizenship or the origin of the claimants” – the MFA stated in the PAP dispatch.
In the subject of the property without legal heirs, in the MFA’s statement it is said that “the Polish law provides in the case of the death of a person without heirs, the takeover of the inheritance by the municipality of the persons’ last place of residence or by the State Treasury”.
The „act 447” case and the controversies around it cannot be only attributed to the external actors that want to influence Polish society. However, the publications in the subject showed up in such media outlets as Polish-speaking version of “Sputnik”, that wrote: “The US indignant at Poland. It is about the return of the Holocaust victims’ property”. On one side Russian alarmed that „in Poland the antisemitism arises”, quoting one of the niche US organizations, just to quote right on the other the nationalists saying that “claiming that we should pay for Germans is a hideous replacing the assassin with the victim”. All of it according to proven technics of creating the informational noise, using the anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiments. It was also calculated on the test of playing on Poles’ fear against external interventions in Polish politics.
The happy end to this case is another proof that in such cases it is reasonable to trust the experts and official statements. We should remember, though, that such situations are ruthlessly used. Videos such as „After adopting the act 447 we should leave the NATO and make a deal with Russia” are still online. We leave to our Readers figuring out whom serves such narration.
WM / Polskie Radio / Gazeta Polska / PAP / msz.gov.pl