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Senate Committee Advances Restitution Bill For Holocaust Survivors

(JTA) — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bill that will help Holocaust survivors and the families of victims obtain restitution or the return of Holocaust-era assets.

On Tuesday, the committee unanimously passed the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST Act.

The legislation requires the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries toward the return of or restitution for wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets, including property, art and other movable property. It also requires a report specifically on progress on the resolution of claims for U.S. citizen Holocaust survivors and family members.

The JUST Act is designed to build on the international Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues of 2009.

Several nations that endorsed the Terezin Declaration, including many NATO allies, have not fully addressed the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property, the sponsors of the bill — Florida Sens. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican — said in a statement.

“Addressing the claims of Holocaust survivors is a pressing issue,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee. “Despite international declarations on the need to resolve claims relating to Nazi-expropriated property, most formerly Jewish-owned properties confiscated by the Nazis and their collaborators have not been returned, nor has compensation been provided to the rightful owners or their heirs.

A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in February by Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., and Christopher Smith, R-N.J.

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