Vienna (Nov. 26)
About 1,700 Austrian Jews shouted “No” today when asked if they wanted Allied occupation troops to leave the country.
The question was put by David Brill, president of the Vienna Jewish Community, who expressed fear that if the occupation forces were withdrawn from Austria, Nazi activities would be renewed on a greater scale than that indicated by recent events, including the anti-Semitic demonstrations at the University of Vienna. Brill was the main speaker at a public rally called to protest the government’s failure to return Jewish dwellings to their former occupants and to air Jewish grievances against the recently-promulgated “Third Restitution Law.”
When Brill waved aloft a bunch of swastikas, which were found strewn on the lawn in front of the Rothschild Hospital this morning, shouts were heard from the floor advocating that the Allied nations should not advance Austria credits, and that UNRRA should cease shipments into the country until it had been cleansed of Nazism. Brill asserted that the Jews, too, wanted a free Austria, but only when it was truly democratic and the government had suppressed all traces of Nazism.
Speaking with a bitterness unequalled to date, he charged that the government had not shown the least interest in meeting Jewish needs. The basic restitution law was good he declared, but implementing legislation was full of loopholes. The “Third Restitution Law” preserves the rent and lease rights of the present Nazi occupants, Brill added. He concluded by pointing out that the law omitted mention of a restitution fund to compensate those Jews whose property was destroyed or had been lost as a result of Nazi persecution.
Other speakers maintained that hundreds of homeless Jews are now living in communal quarters, while Nazis are still living in their former homes. They asserted that mal-practices by Austrian officials were continuing the “aryanization” policy of the fascists and might keep it in force indefinitely.
The meeting unanimously adopted a resolution protesting that crimes against the Jews have not yet been righted, 20 months after the liberation of Austria. The resolution states that portions of the “Third Restitution Law” violate national and international legislation and agreements to restore property and civil rights to victims of fascism, and demands that a restitution fund be established.