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Polish far-right demonstrators protest against restitution of Jewish property

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Polish far-right demonstrators protest against restitution of Jewish property
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Agencja Gazeta/Maciej Jazwiecki
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Polish far-right supporters marched in Warsaw on Saturday to protest against a US law for the restitution of Jewish assets and property during WWII.

Carrying signs that read "Poland has no obligations" and "Holocaust hyenas", hundreds of protesters marched from the prime minister's office to the US embassy in Warsaw.

Poland's Jewish community was decimated during Nazi occupation in WWII since Jews were sent to death camps such as Auschwitz.

Jews who once owned land in Poland and their descendants have been campaigning to get the stolen property and assets back since the fall of communism in 1989. The issue hasn't been resolved partly because of a lack of money from the Polish government and determination to find a solution.

The nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government have said that Poland shouldn't be constrained by any additional financial obligations. This message was repeated by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a rally in the northern town of Mlawa, according to Polish news agency PAP.

But the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act requires the US Department of State to notify Congress on the progress of dozens of countries that signed a declaration on 2009 pledging to restitute the assets seized during WWII.

The so-called Terezin declaration also includes provisions to give formerly Jewish-owned property with no heirs to Holocaust survivors in need of financial help or to support education on the subject.

But it remains up to Poland whether it will comply with the declaration or not.

Polish far-right protesters say that the law could result in Jewish organisations demanding as much as $300 billion (€267 billion) in compensation.

"There is no such law in the world that would sanction (restitution of heirless property) and the Americans want to force us to pay those damages which are simply illegitimate," said Adam Jureczek, a driver from the south-western region of Silesia.