Statement of the Government of the United States on the Lithuanian government‘s proposal on restitution of Jewish property
The United States Government strongly welcomes and endorses the Lithuanian government’s proposal to address longstanding issues of restitution for the Lithuanian Jewish community devastated during the Holocaust. This new initiative builds on the restitution work begun in 2011 by symbolically addressing heirless property and remaining individual claims, and providing resources to maintain Jewish communal life in Lithuania.
“Nearly 200,000 Jews were brutally murdered in Lithuania during the Holocaust both by Nazis and local collaborators, leading to near total destruction of Lithuanian Jews whose presence here stretched back centuries,” said Robert S. Gilchrist, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania. “This bill not only rightfully addresses claims from the past but helps preserve the memory of the Holocaust for future generations. Its passage would represent the closure of an important remaining chapter in the Lithuanian government’s efforts to redress the horrors of this dark period.”
The U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Ellen Germain, noted that “Providing a measure of justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs is a human right and rule of law issue. We welcome the government’s proposal. This bill would address the need for restitution for heirless property and for those unable to make a claim under Lithuania’s existing laws for private property restitution. This issue was highlighted in the State Department’s 2020 report to Congress under the JUST Act, which required the State Department to report on countries’ progress on addressing Holocaust restitution.”
It is United States policy to return Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners, secure compensation for Nazi-era wrongs, and ensure that the Holocaust is remembered and commemorated appropriately. The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius actively supports efforts to strengthen historical memory in Lithuania, including Holocaust education programs in local schools. Both the United States and Lithuania are members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which unites us in supporting Holocaust education and remembrance and combating antisemitism in all its forms.