Polish nationalists protest US over Holocaust claims

Polish far-right protests US law on World War II Jewish assets

Polish far-right protests US law on World War II Jewish assets

Polish nationalists claimed that the law could mean Poland would have to pay as much as 300 billion USA dollars in compensations.

Hundreds of protesters against Holocaust restitution in Poland marched through Warsaw.

Morawiecki expressed support for the protesters, arguing that it was Poles who deserve to be compensated for Nazi crimes. However, protesters claim that Poland was also a victim of Nazi oppression and still suffers from the repercussions of World War II, according to Fox News.

Polish far-right supporters marched in Warsaw on Saturday to protest against a U.S. law for the restitution of Jewish assets and property during WWII. Elections for its own parliament will take place in the autumn. It also comes as far-right groups are gaining in popularity, pressuring the conservative government to move further to the right.

Poland's ethnic Jewish community was all but wiped out during the Second World War, with an estimated 3 million Jews, or 90 percent of those calling Poland home, killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

"Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything?" said 22-year-old Kamil Wencwel.

Poland was home to one of the world's biggest Jewish communities before it was nearly entirely wiped out by Nazi German occupiers who set up death camps such as Auschwitz on Polish soil.

Under the 447 law "the U.S. president must support claims that are illegal, by virtue of the principles of our civilisation, properties without legal heirs belong to the state Treasury", said protester Marek Wawrzyszko.

Rafal Pankowski, a sociologist who heads the anti-extremist group Never Again, called the march "probably the biggest openly anti-Jewish street demonstration in Europe in recent years". Participants wore shirts with the inscriptions "death to the enemies of the fatherland".

Poland will hold European parliament elections on May 26. The movement is polling well with young Polish men.

"We will not allow for compensations to be paid to anybody; we are the ones who are entitled to compensations", Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday. Thousands of Jews were also killed by native Poles during the war.

The measure requires the State Department to report on how certain European countries have progressed in returning wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets.

Protesters said paying compensation would ruin Poland's economy.

The protest Saturday, which began outside the USA embassy and moved to the prime minister's office, featured signs calling claimants "Holocaust hyenas". Men in Native American headdress held a banner with a message pointing to what they see as US double standards: "USA, Practice 447 at home". It is meant to assist Holocaust survivors and their descendants with the return of assets "wrongfully seized or transferred" from Jews during the Holocaust era.

With pressure building on this issue, the U.S. State Department's new envoy on anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, was in Warsaw this past week, telling leaders and media that the U.S.is only urging Poland to fulfil a non-binding commitment it made in 2009 to act on the issue.