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Soviet Authorities in Austria Refuse to Return Nazi-confiscated Jewish Property

The situation concerning the restitution of property expropriated from Austrian Jews by the Nazis, already complicated by the seeming reluctance of the Austrian Government to act, is now becoming even more complex due to the fact that the Russian occupation authorities are including “aryanized” Jewish property in their general program of taking over homes, farms, factories and landed estates.

Soviet authorities originally stated that “aryanized” properties would not be included in reparations exactions under the Potsdam agreement, but their latest course of action is held to be at variance with such assurances. From being a thorny Austrian problem, the restitution of Jewish property has become an even more involved Russo-Austrian question.

Over the weekend the Russians took over 25 Jewish landed estates, totalling 6,988 hectares (17,267 acres) which had been under the control of the so called Austrian Colonization Society. Privately “aryanized” Jewish land holdings of even larger acreage have also been absorbed by the Russians into their Eastern Austrian Colonization Society. Privately “aryanized” Jewish land holdings of even larger acreage have also been absorbed by the Russians into their Eastern Austrian properties, besides estimated hundreds of factories, private dwellings and other possessions taken from the Jews in one way or another by the Nazis.

A high Austrian official states that the Russians have not seized the properties of Austrian Nazis as such, but chiefly the estates of Jews which the Germans took or “purchased” after the Anschluss. Among the Jewish estates now taken by the Russians are one said to belong to an American, Mathias Loew, and property registered in the name of Franz von Papen.

OFFICIALS HOPE SOVIET WILL REVISE ITS POLICY ON JEWISH POSSESSIONS

During the Nazi occupation of Austria, state commissioners sold property ostensibly in the name of the Jewish owners. The German Colonization Society, which was responsible for many such sales, received 10 percent commissions. The purchase price was paid into a special account and a 25 percent tax on the Jews was subtracted, along with other charges.

The Jewish owners received small monthly payments. In case of emigration, their travel expenses were paid from their accounts. The remaining money accounts have long since been dissipated by the Nazis.

The Russian authorities have stated that in the event of the return of “aryanized” property to the original Jewish owners, the Soviet would expect to be paid the sums which the Germans gave for the property. However, the Jewish owners never received more than a small percentage of the recorded “purchase” price. Some Austrian officials have voiced a hope that the Soviet will revise their most recent order in the matter of the German properties to provide for restitution to the Jews.

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