Adenauer Statement First Step Which Must Be Followed by Concrete Proposals

Chancellor Adenauer’s statement “indicates for the first time that responsible German leaders are aware that the German people as a whole cannot escape responsibility for the unspeakable crimes against Jewry committed by the Nazis,” Dr. Nahum Goldmann, co-chairman of the Jewish Agency, which has been dealing with German restitution problems through the Joint Restitution Successor Organization, said tonight.

He said that any move by the German authorities to combat growing anti-Semitism on German soil “must be considered as meeting the very minimum requirement of a society which wants to adhere to the accepted code of humanity and the principles of the United Nations.

“There can be no expiation for the dead,” he declared. “But for those who managed to suffer the Nazi terror and still survive, retribution in some measure can and must be made. Moreover, law and morality demand that the criminal be forced to yield the profits of his crime. It is on this basis that the Government of Israel and the Jewish people, with the support of all decent elements in the world, have made certain claims upon Germany.

“In this connection, Chancellor Adenauer announces the readiness of the Bonn Government to discuss, with representatives of Israel and of the Jewish people, the whole question of restitution and indemnification. It must be obvious that the amounts involved must be in some proportion to the magnitude of the destruction of Jewish assets for which the German people are responsible. Only when the concrete proposals of the West German Government are made known, both as to the extent of its planned restitution and indemnification, and the procedure which it is prepared to follow, can Jewish public opinion judge the significance of the Chancellor’s statement.

“Certainly no arrangement could be considered acceptable,” he stated, “unless it satisfies not only the claims of individual Jews and of the Jewish people as such, but above all the specific and detailed claims presented by the Government of Israel which have already won the moral support of the western powers and of Jewish organizations throughout the world, Chancellor Adenauer has opened the way to the only restitution, considering the nature of the crime, which it is still in human power to make. As such, the statement must be noted with satisfaction. It is an initial move which must be followed by concrete proposals yet to be made by the Bonn authorities.”

Dr. Adenauer’s statement was described by the American Jewish Committee tonight as “a significant first step towards Germany’s assumption of its moral and legal responsibilities of the unprecedented crimes committed by the German Third Reich against the Jews of Europe and, indeed, its violations of the fundamental tenets of human decency and democratic order.” It welcomed the German Chancellor’s intention “to achieve a fair and early settlement of the question of restitution of property to Jewish victims, or to their successors.”

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