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Austrian Chancellor Claims Restitution of Jewish Property Lagging Because of Allies

The restitution to Jews of property stripped from them by the Nazis, which has been lagging in Austria, was discussed here yesterday at a conference between Ernst Stiassny and Siegfried Altman of the World Jewish Congress and Chancellor Leopold Figl and members of his cabinet, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Karl Gruber, Minister of State Property Peter Krauland, Minister of Justice Joseph Gero and Minister of Education and Culture Felix Hurdes.

Figl told the Jewish conferees that the chief difficulty preventing restitution of Jewish property was the fact that all laws promulgated by the Austrian Government require prior approval by the Allied Commission. Since the Allies have not yet approved any restitution law the government has only been able to take partial measures, he added.

To a demand by the Congress representatives that at least 1,000 of the 60,000 houses in Vienna which formerly belonged to Jews be turned over to those now living in the city, Figl said that the Jewish community here had been informed that this was impossible, because there is no legislation providing for such transfers.

The Chancellor admitted that there were still traces of anti-Semitism among the Austrian people, but asserted that bias against Jews was not “excessive.” Both he and Mr. Gruber said that the government would not tolerate discrimination against Jews by any official body, and promised to investigate immediately any complaints.

Jews who emigrate from Austria, Figl said, would be considered Austrians, if they so desired, and will receive the protection of Austrian consular offices where they exist.

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