Helen Mirren testified Tuesday on behalf of a bill that would make it easier for Holocaust victims to go after Nazi-looted art taken from them.
The Academy Award-winning actress spoke at a hearing led by former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on his bill, the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, which would set a six-year statute of limitations on claims for Nazi-era stolen art, which would start when the artwork was recovered, according to Newsweek
"It's a terribly sad fact that more than 70 years later, victims of the Holocaust and their families are still contemplating whether to seek restitution for what was stolen from them," Mirren said before federal lawmakers Tuesday. "A lack of a legal assurance that at least they can have their say in court — this discourages them from taking action."
Reuters reported this week that the possessions
of more than 16,000 Holocaust victims who were held in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz were recovered in Poland decades after they were put in storage and forgotten about.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim said items including jewelry, thermometers, cutlery, empty medicine bottles, keys, and brushes had initially been found
in 1967 by archaeologists searching an area where a gas chamber and crematorium had stood during World War II.
Described as "the last personal belongings of the Jews led to death in the gas chambers upon selection at the ramp," the museum stated that the possessions were stored in 48 cardboard boxes in Warsaw's Polish Academy of Sciences and left there until they were found recently.
"These were items belonging to Jews from Poland, Hungary, and from across Europe. They made their way to the threshold of the gas chambers with only their personal clothes, with their tiny bags," museum director Piotr Cywinski told Reuters, calling the collection of items "a gigantic find."
Cruz said at the hearing that the new law would take away a defense used by people and institutions holding such art, claiming that the statute of limitations began when the crime was committed in the World War II era.
Mirren brought attention to the issue in the 2015 film "Women in Gold," in which she played a Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, who fled the Nazis in Vienna during World War II and spent decades trying to recover her family's lost artwork, NBC News reported
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