Austrian Govt. Will Not Give Jews Special Consideration in Matters of Property Restitution

Jews whose property was confiscated by the Nazis will receive no special consideration under the Austrian Government’s plan for property restitution, Chancellor Leopold Figl indicated today, receiving a delegation of leaders of the Vienna Jewish community.

Figl asserted that the terms of the Potsdam agreement made it difficult for the Government to return property taken from Jews, and added that he believed that no line should be drawn between Jews and non-Jews in matters of restitution. The Chancellor evaded a request by the delegation that an official Jewish representative be placed in the Ministry of Property Custody and other offices dealing with Jewish problems, stating that he would bring the demand to the attention of the responsible officials.

The delegation, which was headed by David Brill, recently re-elected president of the Jewish community, informed the Chancellor that hundreds of Jews continue to live in unsuitable quarters, because they are unable to regain their former Agellings. It pointed out that in only a few cases have Jews been named administrators of their confiscated property, and that although a year has passed since the liberation of Austria, no steps have been taken to restore such property.

Following the meeting with Figl, a spokesman for the delegation said that it would watch carefully to see whether the Chancellor’s promise to bring the question of Jewish representation before the appropriate bureau heads would be fulfilled. The spokesman pointed out that the Minister of Property Custody, Peter Krauland, has broken several promises to give Jews representation in the ministry.

One of the chief difficulties faced by Jews attempting to regain possession of their homes or businesses is the fact that the courts demand that the former owner prove that the person who now holds the property was a Nazi. There is at present no legislation requiring a non-Nazi to surrender Jewish property to the original owner.

Meanwhile, in order to improve the situation of Vienna’s Jews, Joseph Schwartz, European director of the JDC, who visited here on routs to Poland, arranged with the Jewish community counsel to place distribution of all food sent in by the JDC in the hands of the council under supervision of the relief organization. The JDC has also agreed to finance the activities of the community until it can become self-sup-porting. The community budget for relief and other essential services is about 100,000 schillings (nominally $10,000) per month.

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