Council of Foreign Ministers Decides Heirless Property Must Go for Jewish Relief

Leading Jewish organizations today hailed the adoption last night by the Council of Foreign Ministers, now in session here, of the clauses in the peace treaties with Hungary and Rumania insuring the restoration of civil rights and the restitution of property to Jews in the two ex-satellite countries.

Specifically, the Council of Foreign Ministers agreed that Rumania and Hungary must undertake not to discriminate against Jews or other persons for racial or religious reasons and must turn over heirless Jewish property to local Jewish relief organizations, if that property was confiscated by the governments of the countries during the war under the then existing anti-Jewish laws.

The clause providing for the transfer of heirless property to Jewish relief groups was offered by the British at the Paris peace conference and was strongly supported last night by U.S. Secretary of State Byrnes. It was finally accepted by Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov who originally objected to this clause.

JEWISH GROUPS WANT PROVISIONS ON HEIRLESS PROPERTY IN TREATY WITH GERMANY

A statement issued today by the Joint Committee of Jewish Organizations, which includes representatives of all the major Jewish groups in the United States and Europe who submitted a joint memorandum to the Peace Conference in Paris, expresses the hope that the principle that heirless Jewish property be used exclusively for Jewish rehabilitation and reconstruction will also be “written into the peace treaty with Germany and will be adopted by all governments, wherever such property may be situated.” The statement reads:

“We are gratified by the action of the Council of Foreign Ministers, which can be regarded as a step towards the rehabilitation of the persecuted Jewish communities in Europe. Jewish organizations representing the vast majority of the Jews of the world, united in Paris last summer to urge the Conference of Paris to accept these proposals. They were finally recommended by two-third majorities to the Council of Foreign Ministers. The ex-enemy countries objected to the inclusion of these clauses in the peace treaties and opposition to them arose on the ground that they impugned the good intentions of the present governments of those countries.

“The Jewish organizations repeatedly made it clear that they did not desire to reflect on these governments and had confidence in their assurances that they would comply with the requests of the Jewish communities of those countries. However, it was the view of our organizations that questions such as these must be removed from the arena of domestic political struggle in that the governments concerned would be reinforced if the peace treaties gave them an international mandates to carry out their good intentions. We look forward to the speedy implementation of the treaty provisions.

“We are especially pleased that the peace treaties will establish the principle that the property of victims of Nazi persecution should under no circumstances escheat to the state, but should be regarded as trust funds for the rehabilitation of the survivors.”

The Joint Committee of Jewish Organizations is composed of representatives of the World Jewish Congress, Agudas Israel World Organizations, American Jewish Conference, American Jewish Committee, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Anglo-Jewish Association, Conseil Representatif des Juifs de France, Alliance Israelite Universelle, and South African Board of Jewish Deputies.

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