U.S. House Passes Bill to Help Holocaust Survivors Get Restitution From European Countries

Bill requiring reports to Congress on how European countries are working to restore assets and properties now headed to president's desk for final approval

Survivors and their relatives arrive at the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Oswiecim, Poland, January 27, 2018.
Czarek Sokolowski/AP

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would help Holocaust survivors and their family members obtain restitution from European governments for assets seized during the 1930s and World War II.

The bill requires the U.S. State Department to report to Congress on how different European countries are working to restore assets and properties seized during the Holocaust era to their original owners or their descendants. 

A similar version of the bill approved on Tuesday was passed last year by the Senate, meaning that the bill has now been approved by both chambers of Congress, and will become law once it is signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Senate version of the bill was originally presented by Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin. Baldwin wrote after the bill's passage that she is proud of the "bipartisan effort to take a critical step toward justice, at long last, for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims."

The American Jewish Committee congratulated Rubio and Baldwin, along with Reps. Chrish Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, and Joe Crowley, a Democrat from New York who presented the bill in the House. The organization also write that the bill "is important for bringing long-delayed justice to survivors", adding that "we look forward" to seeing President Trump "signing the bill into law swiftly."

“This is a powerful statement of America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Holocaust survivors in their quest for justice,” said Gideon Taylor, the chair of operations for World Jewish Restitution, an organization that promoted and supported the legislation. “We thank the Senate and House, and particularly Senators Baldwin and Rubio and Representatives Crowley and Smith, for their heartfelt leadership on this issue.”