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West German President Rejects Idea of Collective German Guilt for Nazi Crimes

The idea of collective guilt of the German people for Nazi atrocities against the Jews was rejected by Dr. Theodor Heuss, President of the West German Federal Republic, at a press conference here this weekend. He added, however, that it was his belief that “the German people should feel collectively ashamed.”

His government, he disclosed, will create a special section of Jewish affairs and assume “a positive attitude” on the problem of restitution to Jewish victims of the Hitler regime and expressed the hope that “it will be possible to slowly rebuild Jewish life in Germany.” Dr. Heuss, emphasizing he could not consider issuing a public invitation to German Jews abroad to return to Germany stated he would welcome the return to Germany of Jews, especially those who still feel a “spiritual kinship” with this country and who have economic interests here.

Declaring his government would take a “positive attitude” on the question of restitution Dr. Heuss cautioned “this will be a lengthy process” and that the “sums involved are so great that at present we simply have not got the means to meet them at once.” He promised a public statement on his attitude toward the Jewish people at the conference of the Association of Christians and Jews scheduled for Dec. 7 in Wiesbaden.

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