Vienna (Jan. 24)
Jewish circles here are concerned over the possibility that the Allies will seize all former Nazi assets in Austria for reparations, disregarding the individual claims of Jews, from whom most of this property was originally stolen.
The Austrian Government has been considering using all the unclaimed property of Nazis who fled the country in fear of the Allies for a common reparations pool for all returned survivors of concentration camps, regardless of the reason for which the Nazis imprisoned them, it is reported here.
A Government spokesman has pointed out that it would require special permission of the Allied occupation authorities to return to Jews property stolen from them, since the terms of the Potsdam Declaration provide for a common reparations pool. Because the property taken from Jews was held legally under the Nazi system of jurisprudence, this title may be recognized and the forfeited assets be placed in the common pool.
Prior to the Anschluss, more than 10,000 buildings in Vienna were owned by Jews, according to the estimate of Aaron Ehrlich, head of the Jewish businessmen’s organization. Most of these houses were confiscated, or their owners were cheated by Nazi “laws.” Although only a few of the owners have survived, they are not permitted to live in their own homes, and they cannot collect rents from the tenants, Ehrlich said. In a letter to Chancellor Leopold Figl, Ehrlich has charged that not only homes, but large holdings in farm and forest lands, which were seized from Jews, is still in the hands of Nazis.
Other Jews have made frequent and public complaints that they are starving and have insufficient clothing to last out the winter. One group of former concentration camp inmates has protested to Chancellor Figl that despite his promises of assistance, known Nazis are living under much better conditions than they.
Under the Austrian rationing system everyone receives the same amount of food, Jews and Nazis alike. This works particular hardships upon the Jews who were in hiding during the Nazi occupation and obtained little food as they had no ration cards. The only exceptions being made are for inmates of the concentration camps, who are supposed to receive a small amount of additional food for six months after their release. Since it usually takes these Jews a number of months to reach home under present conditions of travel, they only obtain this “extra” ration for a month or so, Jewish spokesmen maintain.