THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release February 13, 1998
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am pleased to sign into law S. 1564, the Holocaust Victims Redress Act. This bill enables the United States Government to provide further assistance to needy Holocaust survivors and also strengthens current U.S. efforts aimed at encouraging countries that possess gold looted from Holocaust victims to donate those assets to the Nazi Persecution Relief Fund. It further recognizes the need for long overdue archival research and translation services to set the historical record straight.
My Administration has worked hard to bring whatever measure of justice might be possible to Holocaust survivors, their families, and the heirs of those who perished. We have pressed for restitution of property and for the full declassification of archives so that confiscated assets can be traced and restored to their rightful owners. To speed progress toward that goal, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in conjunction with the Department of State will co-host in June an international conference on Nazi assets.
As I sign this bill into law, I note that section 102(a), which purports to direct the President on how to pursue negotiations with foreign states, raises constitutional concerns. Article II of the Constitution confers on the President alone the Executive powers of the United States, which includes special authority over foreign affairs. Although I support the policies underlying this provision, it can be read to interfere with my discretion over matters of foreign policy, and I will therefore construe the provision as precatory.
There can be no way to deliver full justice for the many millions of victims of Nazi persecution, and we know that the unspeakable losses of all kinds that they suffered will never be made whole. Yet it is my hope that with this bill, we can help provide some dignity and relief to those who were subjected to the ultimate barbarism of the Holocaust, and that it will hasten the restitution that they undeniably deserve.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON