Bavarian Parliament Decides to Ask U.S. to Turn over Restitution Program to Germans

The Bavarian Provincial Parliament today unanimously adopted a Christian Socialist motion calling on the Bonn Government to urge the American High Commission to turn over responsibility for the entire restitution program to the Germans. In Jewish circles this action was considered the first step in a campaign to destroy the entire restitution program.

In defending the motion, various deputies in the Parliament charged that the High Commission refused to consider German interests or the German viewpoint in restitution matters. Dr. Franz Zdralek, newly-appointed head of the Bavarian Restitution Office, charged during the debate that many of the restitution claims constituted frauds and worked hardships on the German possessors of “aryanized” property.

Bavarian Minister-President Hans Ehard, Justice Minister Josef Mueller, Finance Minister Rudolf Zorn and Restitution Director Dr. Zdralek today held a joint press conference to report on the progress of the case of Dr. Philip Auerbach, former head of the Restitution Office who is under arrest on charges of fraud. There appeared to be little unity among the Bavarian Ministers.

Dr. Zdralek, Dr. Auerbach’s successor, said that he had already submitted plans for running the restitution program, but was restricted by a lack of funds. He was immediately countered by Finance Minister Zorn who said that he had made 5,000,000 Deutschemarks available for restitution claims and was, furthermore, eager to liquidate some 200,000,000 Deutschemarks worth of property seized by Bavaria during the denazification program in order to provide more funds.

Justice Minister Mueller explained that there were charges against Dr. Auerbach that he had mistreated Jewish fellow prisoners at the Oswiecim death camp, but that there was insufficient evidence to support prosecution on these charges. He added that other crimes of a “minor” nature of which Dr. Auerbach was accused had either lapsed under a statute of limitations of were covered by amnesty.

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