The United States congratulates the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for signing an historic agreement today with the Jewish Community of Luxembourg, together with the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah.
It is poignant that this agreement is being signed today. This is the beginning of the 80th year since the Nazis first transported Jews from Luxembourg to death camps. Today is also International Holocaust Remembrance Day, memorializing the liberation of Auschwitz – where many of the Jews transported from Luxembourg were murdered.
The Government of Luxembourg and the United States have both been a part of a cause that began a long time ago. In 1952, Luxembourg was the site of a major agreement signed by Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany. At that time, Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, spoke about the need for justice for Holocaust survivors and the victims’ families. He said it was necessary “so that the murderers do not become the heirs as well.”
The Luxembourg Agreement of that year was a milestone in righting these economic and humanitarian wrongs. And through the historic agreement being signed today, Luxembourg commits to establishing an enduring memorial at Cinqfontaines Abbey to the victims of the Holocaust; providing support to remaining Holocaust survivors from Luxembourg; and developing a national strategy to combat anti-Semitism. With this agreement, Luxembourg settles Holocaust-era heirless and communal property claims. Today, Luxembourg also is committing to an evidenced-backed process to identify and return dormant bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, insurance policies, and looted art.
The historic actions taken by Luxembourg today are in furtherance of its commitments under the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets. This should encourage other countries in Europe that endorsed the Declaration to act urgently to resolve remaining Holocaust-era property issues and meet their commitments to Holocaust survivors, heirs, and to Jewish communities devastated by the Holocaust.
The United States is also working toward these goals and commitments. In 1999, the Department of State established the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues to develop and implement U.S. 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. In 2020, the Department of State’s Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act Report to Congress demonstrated to the world how important this issue remains to the United States. It is in that spirit of shared values that we congratulate the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for signing this agreement.