Menu JTA Search

Moscow Agreement on Return of Jewish Property by Austria Will Give Small Aid to Jews

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The Big Four agreement yesterday on a clause in the tresty with Austria binding that country to return to Jews and other religious and racial persecutees property confiscated from them after the Anschluss is actually without much meaning as a result of various modifications and reservations by one or the other of the Allied powers.

The British-French-Russian proposal that full compensation be paid for confiscated property was scrapped in favor of the U.S. proposal that the property be returned in its present state. Movable property will be returned only if it can be traced and recovered.

Damages to property or losses will be compensated for on the same basis as Austrian nationals will be recompensed for war damages. Since it is unlikely that the Austrian Government will be able to make such payments, the Jews do not stand to receive much, if anything. This principle was advocated by the American representatives on the basis that it would not be equitable to place Jews or other groups in a privileged position.

No agreement was reached on the question of heirless property. The Soviet ##tives suggested that it be turned over to Jewish or other persecutee or## in Austria, while the western powers want the Allied mission in Austria to allot the funds to Jewish groups outside of Austria as well as those in the country, pointing out that few Jews remain in Austria and the money could be used for Austrian Jews abroad.

There was also no agreement on the question of what former Jewish property is to be considered reparations under the Potsdam Agreement. The Russians maintain that Jewish property “aryanized” by the Germans for which some compensation was paid should be considered German property and as such subject to seizure as reparations. The British-American position is that any transaction made under duress, even if some payment was made, should be considered invalid and the property revert to the original owner.

These last two points will now be referred to the Council of Foreign Ministers for a decision when they take final action on the Austrian treaty. American experts estimate that the property affected by these clauses is valued at about $300,000,000.

NEXT STORY