The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary,
We, the citizens of the Polish Republic turn to you to protest against the allegations made in the letter by 46 American Congressmen, dated June 29, 2015 and the letter by the Comptrollers of the City and State of New York and the Treasurer of the State of California, dated July 30, 2015.
The allegations concern the restitution of Jewish property, purportedly misappropriated by Poland after World War II. The letters addressed to you, Mr. Secretary, by the aforementioned politicians accuse Poland of collaboration in crimes committed against the Jewish people and place our country in the same category as Nazi Germany! The purpose of our protest is to draw attention to the falseness of these accusations that misrepresent the historic background of World War II, voiced purely to support the motives of self-interest of unspecified groups of people to obtain the so-called Holocaust compensation. Full documentation of the accusations and replies thereon can be found on the website www.polish-american.us.
Let us recall historical facts that would contradict the allegations of the 46 American politicians.
Poland was the only one country occupied by Nazi Germany where a clandestine organization called Zegota was set-up to save Jewish people. Established on December 4, 1942 on the initiative of two Polish women, the writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and the PPS representative Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz. The organization functioned until 1945 and was the only institution operating under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile aiding Jews in occupied Europe. Zegota members provided them with financial assistance, shelter, livelihoods, medical care and forged documents. Posters calling for the support of Jewish people were distributed on the streets of occupied Warsaw. Zofia Kossak-Szczucka wrote:“Several hundred thousands of victims are awaiting their death in the Warsaw Ghetto, behind a wall cutting them off from the world. Those who keep silent in the face of a murder become the murderer’s accomplice. Not to condemn is to allow! We Polish Catholics speak out.”Five thousand posters with suchlike content were printed and distributed throughout the streets of Warsaw. Such was the reaction of the Polish people to the huge operation unleashed by the Nazi occupier aimed at liquidating Jews.
The Polish nation is outraged by the desecration of the honor of thousands of Polish heroes, nameless and those known by name, who rescued Jews from the conflagration of World War II, endangering their own lives. Poles were not indifferent to their fate. This was especially reflected in the attitudes of Jan Karski, Capitan Witold Pilecki and Irena Sendler.
Jan Karski, an eye-witness to the extermination of Jews at the Auschwitz concentration camp was the first and only person to inform the then President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt about the Holocaust on July 28, 1943. The Polish emissary also conveyed the appeal from Jewish leaders to representatives of the highest Allied authorities. On December 10, 1942, Edward Raczynski, the then Foreign Minister of the Polish Government in London, provided the Allies with a detailed report on the Holocaust based on documentary evidence delivered by Jan Karski in the form of microfilms. Jan Karski was awarded the highest state distinctions, the Polish Order of the White Eagle and the American Medal of Freedom, for his activities. Additionally, Yad Vashem recognized him as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.
A further person who played an enormous role in saving Jews during World War II was Capitan Witold Pilecki who deliberately ended up in Auschwitz in 1940. He gathered intelligence about the camp, which was smuggled out with released prisoners. Pilecki prepared the first secret note about the holocaust and the fate of Jewish inmates in the German Nazi camp at Auschwitz. He acquired reliable information about Nazi crimes as well as material on concentration camps constructed by the Germans in Poland. In 1943, Pilecki managed to escape from the Auschwitz camp and conveyed the facts about the Holocaust to the Polish Underground State. He was awarded the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ accolade by Yad Vashem.
One of the figures better known in the world as a symbol of Polish dedication and involvement in saving Jews is Irena Sendler. Risking her own life, she saved in the region of 2,500 Jewish children from death in the Warsaw Ghetto. She was also awarded the ‘Righteous Among Nations’ distinction by Yad Vashem.
Despite efforts made by occupied Poland to obtain help for Jewish people, neither the then government of the USA nor the American Jewish community provided any assistance. Yet, Poland was blamed for the existing situation!
THE MEMORY OF THE PEOPLE WHO AIDED JEWS DURING WORLD WAR II STILL LIVES AMONG THE POLISH NATION. THEY ARE OUR NATIONAL HEROES AND WE HAIL THEIR MEMORY. WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT THE LARGEST NUMBER ON THE LIST OF ‘RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS’ WHO SUPPORTED JEWISH PEOPLE DURING WORLD WAR II ARE POLISH CITIZENS.
We would also bring to your attention the fact that Poland lost 20% of its population, 40% of its pre-war territory, 62% of its industry, 84% of its infrastructure, and a majority of its educated population during World War II. Despite huge losses and the absence of reparations for war damages, which a number of years ago were estimated at 640 to 850 billion dollars, Poland has compensated and continues to compensate for losses incurred by former property owners, including those of Jewish origin. Between 1948 and 1971 Poland concluded property restitutions and compensation treaties with 13 countries, including the USA. Under these treaties all claims launched by foreign legal entities and individuals have been settled in full and discharged. Since 1989, all private individual claims are being reviewed and realized by judicial and administrative bodies. As a result, thousands of Jews or their heirs, as well as representatives of other nations have recovered their properties in Poland.
Mr. Secretary, we would also like to turn your attention to the propaganda campaign organized and managed by private interest groups who demand that Poland pay billions of dollars for properties and assets left after the World War II by heirless Jews.
In the absence of documentary evidence of ownership rights, history is being distorted and falsified and arguments to seize unfounded claims are being created. These actions coincide with political pressure on the Polish government to pay compensation to organizations that lack any legal grounds for claiming Jewish properties. The demands that Poland takes responsibility for crimes committed by the actual offenders, which is Nazi Germany, are outrageous!
We firmly support the stance expressed by seven Presidents of State Divisions of the Polish American Congress, in letters addressed to each American congressman, other principal US authorities, as well as to you, Mr. State Secretary. We also back the stance of Nowy Dziennik (Polish Daily News), the largest Polish language newspaper on the USA East Coast, which on October 15, 2015 provided you, Mr. Secretary, with a legal opinion prepared by The Plata Law Firm PLLC. Among the facts underlined in the memorandum of law by The Plata Law Firm, special attention is paid to the amount of 40,000,000.00 US dollars paid by Poland to the United Stated in compensation for properties lost by American citizens of Jewish origin. In addition, the opinion recalled that Poland enacted a law on the restitution of Jewish communal property nearly 20 years ago and consequently returned the right of ownership of approximately 2,500 properties to Jewish organizations. As is the case in most democratic countries, including the USA, any properties in Poland that remain without heirs fall to the State Treasury.
We object to the unfounded allegations against Poland and demand that such unjustified defamations are withdrawn. The Polish nation will not accept the furtive activities of organized international groups of interests that attempt to change the history of World War II, including the history of our country. We express our opposition to the anti-Polish attitudes publicly presented by some American politicians as well as the unprecedented attempts to extort and seize Polish properties by means of arbitrary interpretations of historical facts.
The citizens of the Polish Republic