PARIS (Dec. 20)
A bill now before the Austrian Parliament would effectively undermine existing restitution laws by which victims of persecution in that country have gradually been recovering properties they lost during the Hitler and war years, it was reported here today.
The new bill was introduced in keeping with promises made in the Austrian election campaign of last October, when leading political parties wooed the votes of some 450,000 amnestied Nazis casting ballots for the first time since the end of hostilities, according to the American Jewish Committee’s legal representative, Max Isenbergh, who has just returned to Paris after making a survey of the Jewish restitution situation in Austria.
Not only would it be virtually impossible for persecutees whose cases are now pending to get restitution under the new bill, said Mr. Isenbergh, but even those who have recorded their homes, land, or other property, could be forced to go back into the courts again, and in most cases would lose what was restored to them.
Leading Jewish organizations working with the American Jewish Committee to have the new bill defeated are the Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and the World Jewish Congress. These organizations feel that the bill is contrary to the international agreement signed by the Allies in 1943, providing that adequate restitution should be made for all those unjustly deprived of their goods or property under Nazi regimes. Austria later became signatory to this agreement.