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New Czech Government Lifts Ban on Emigration; Weakening of Property Restitution Feared

One of the first steps of the new Czech Government was the issuance today of an order by the Ministry of Interior rescinding an existing ban on the emigration of Jews from this country. The order provides for the issuance of exit permits to Czechoslovakian and alien Jews wishing to leave the country.

Meanwhile, it was revealed here that a number of proposals have been submitted to the Social Committee of the Czechoslovak National Assembly which, if adopted, would in effect eliminate the restitution claims of many Jews who lost agricultural holdings during the Nazi occupation of the country and diminish the value of other agricultural and industrial holdings.

One such proposal would exempt from restitution proceedings agricultural holdings officially classified as small farms. Since many of the agricultural parcels illegally transferred or seized from Jews were later broken up and sold or handed out by the Nazis and their collaborators in small lots, the Jews who suffered the loss would have no legal claim.

Another proposal, submitted by the Colonization Off ice and the National Rehabilitation Fund, would prohibit the return in kind of seized agricultural lands or industrial property for which no claim was filed within 60 days of publication of the proposed new law. In the event that application is made later, an indemnification will be paid in lieu of restitution, a procedure which has in the past month been an actual loss for the owner.

Jewish communal organizations have entered strong protests against all the proposed changes. They point out that a 60-day deadline is unfair to relatives of the Jews who were robbed and who may have died since then or to organizations, which are entitled to inherit the property when it is established that the rightful owner died heirless. In general, the Jews point out, the latest drafts of the restitution law have the effect of slowing up and hampering the entire, process of returning property to its former owners. A similar protest has been made in Bratislava by Slovak Jews against restitution courts in the province which are notorious for hindering rather than aiding the restitution process.

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