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Poles hold ‘largest’ protest against US pressure over Jews

Poles hold ‘largest’ protest against US pressure over Jews

Poles hold ‘largest’ protest against US pressure over Jews
May 13
10:52 2019

Thousands of Poles have marched on the US Embassy in Warsaw to protest American pressure on Poland to compensate Jews whose families allegedly lost property during World War II.

The protest held on Saturday was described as one of the largest street demonstrations in recent times, attracting a wide spectrum of groups including far-rights and their supporters.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed into law the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act, also known as S. 447, which requires restitution of property stolen in the Holocaust in dozens of countries.

US State Department’s new envoy on anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, was in Warsaw this past week, telling leaders and media that Washington was urging Poland to act on the issue.

Polish protesters in Native American headdress Saturday held a banner with a message pointing to US double standards: “USA, Practice 447 at home. Return stolen lands to the descendants of native tribes.”

They said the United States has no right to interfere in Polish affairs and that the US government is putting “Jewish interests” over the interests of Poland, the Associated Press reported.

Poland sees itself as a major victim of Nazi Germany and those protesting say it is not fair to ask Poland to compensate other victims when Poland has never received compensation from Germany.

Last month, a senior ruling party lawmaker in Poland said Germany could owe the country more than $850 billion in reparations for damages it incurred during World War II.

Some six million Poles were allegedly killed during the war and Warsaw was razed to the ground following a 1944 uprising in which about 200,000 civilians died.

Germany, one of Poland's biggest trade partners and a fellow member of the European Union and NATO, says all financial claims linked to the war have been settled.

“Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything?” 22-year-old Kamil Wencwel told the AP. “Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki echoed the feelings of the protesters at a campaign rally Saturday, saying that it is Poles who deserve compensation.

The protesters said paying compensation would ruin Poland’s economy, but the World Jewish Restitution Organization has been seeking compensation for survivors and their families.

Rafal Pankowski, a sociologist, called the Saturday march probably the biggest openly “anti-Jewish” street demonstration in Europe in recent years.

Many Poles believe their suffering in the war has not been adequately acknowledged by the world, while that of Jewish suffering has.

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