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American Jewish Conference Supports U.S. Attitude on Heirless Property in Austria

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The American Jewish Conference today issued a statement supporting the attitude of the Western powers at the Moscow Conference that heirless Jewish property in Austria be transferred to organizations to be designated by the Allies and the proceeds used for the rehabilitation of Austrian Jews both inside and outside Austria.

“In view of the fact that of the original 200,000 Jews in Austria only 8,000 now remain there, while 84,000 survivors are abroad and the 36,000 Jewish DP’s in Austria are not expected to remain, a restriction on the disposal of heirless property to Jews in Austria only would in fact benefit very few of the Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution. Justice demands that heirless property in Austria of victims of Nazi aggression shall be used for the rehabilitation of all the survivors of Hitlerism whether they now reside inside or outside of Austria,” the statement said.

At the same time the American Jewish Conference criticized the reported proposal of the U.S. delegation at Moscow that instead of paying full compensation to Jews in Austria for confiscated property, the Austrian Government should return the property in its present state to the Jewish owners and that no compensation what?ever be paid for property which could not be located or for damage to such property.

“If the argument that it would not be equitable to place Jews in a privileged position was really advanced by the American delegation, then it was misguided in believing that lip service to the principle of equality was a satisfactory substitute for effective and real justice,” the statement of the American Jewish Conference declared. “It is hard to understand the ‘inequity’ of restoring to and compensating Jews and other victims of persecution for property unlawfully seized from them. To place them in the same category with Austrians who were never persecuted, who enjoyed their property throughout the war, and who suffered property loss only because the war in which they participated did not go their way–is manifestly inequitable.”

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