Jews in Austria Deplore Government’s New Policy Towards Nazis and Property Restoration

A marked deterioration of relations between the Austrian Government and the Vienna Jewish community is developing under pressure of several issues, it was indicated here today.

The cool atmosphere surrounding current discussions of these issues stems from two sources: First, the Vienna Jewish community of 12,000 is deeply concerned and even frightened by the government’s “forgive and forget” policy toward the Nazis. Second, the Jews have thus far failed in their efforts to obtain a loan from the government’s administrators of property slated for restitution to victims of the Nazis. At the same time, the Jews charge that anti-Semitism is on increase.

At a meeting held here this week, Jewish leaders expressed their shock over the fact that high government officials had been negotiating with former Nazis about participation in the national elections slated for mid-October. The meeting unanimously voted to condemn such discussions, alleging that the way was being paved to bring former Nazis into influential positions.

The Jewish leaders reminded the authorities that of 200,000 Jews in Austria before the war, 185,000 had been driven out or murdered by the Nazis. The few remaining are still fighting for their rights. Finally, the Jewish community leaders protested against the recent move in the Austrian parliament to absolve some groups of “implicated” Nazis from punishment under the law.

On the question of a loan from restitution funds, the Jews learned that the government is drafting a bill to create a fund which would serve both Jewish and non-Jewish rehabilitation demands. The Vienna Jewish community had requested a loan of 25,000,000 schillings–about $2,500,000–from the government to meet urgent needs in the care and maintenance of needy Jews. Now the Austrian financial authorities have offered them 5,000,000 schillings to repaid in five years.

The proposal which stirred up a storm at the Jewish community meeting was the government’s suggestion that all property of the community be mortgaged as security for the loan, Jews estimate their share of the restitution property to be worth 1,000,000,000 schillings. While some speakers demanded outright rejection of the government’s conditions, the majority voted to insist on the loan from restitution funds without any mortgage commitment. Negotiations are continuing, but with a definite chill surrounding them.

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