NEW YORK (Oct. 24)
A two-day conference on Jewish claims against Germany will open tomorrow at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here with representatives of 20 major Jewish organizations from seven countries–including principal American groups–participating. Israel will be represented by a delegation headed by Ambassador Abba Eban.
In a statement issued today by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, co-chairman of the Jewish Agency who will preside at the opening session, it was emphasized that the sessions will give opportunity to representatives of Israel and of the Jewish people to unite on a “practical and realistic” course of action in the light of the recent statement on Jewish policy by Western Germany’s Chancellor Adenauer. The Chancellor called upon German law-making bodies to stamp out renascent anti-Semitism among the German people, and asserted the readiness of the Bonn Government to negotiate “with representatives of the Israel Government and of Jewry” the problem of Jewish claims against Germany.
“It must be emphasized, however,” Dr. Goldmann declared, “that the conference is not one which could or should attempt to settle the great historical problem of the relations between the Jewish and German peoples. It would be insulting to the memory of the 6,000,000 Jews slain by the Nazis, and insulting to the dignity and self-respect of the Jewish people, to imagine that less than a decade after the greatest crime in history, the Jewish people could even consider ‘normalizing’ relations with Germany.”
Dr. Goldmann announced that, in addition to the Jewish Agency, the following organizations will participate as co-sponsors: Agudath Israel World Union; Alliance Israelite Universelle; American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Congress; American Zionist Council; Anglo-Jewish Association; B’nai B’rith; Board of Deputies of British Jews; Canadian Jewish Congress; Conseil Representatif des Juifs de France; Council for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Jews from Germany.
Also, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.; Representative Council of Argentine Jewish Organizations; South African Jewish Board of Deputies; Synagogue Council of America; World Jewish Congress. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will be represented at the sessions by observers.
DR. GOLDMANN OUTLINES AIMS OF THE CONFERENCE
In his pre-conference statement. Dr. Goldmann continued: “It is my hope that these bodies, representing the overwhelming majority of organized Jewry in the western world, will:
“1. Fix common policy with regard to the manifold Jewish claims against Germany, which include (a) the claim of the Israel Government based primarily on the cost to her of rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of Jewish victims of Nazism; (b) the claim of the Jewish people against Germany, based on various grounds including the billions of marks mulcted from German Jewry in punitive and discriminating taxes; (c) claims based on heirless property now in the hands of Germany; (d) claims by individuals and (e) claims arising under ‘indemnification’ laws approved, but inadequately enforced, in various parts of western Germany.
“2. Unite on a program aimed at pressing the Bonn Government to increase its efforts to wipe out anti-Semitism in its area. We consider this the very minimal requirement of a civilized society.
“In thus entering discussions of Jewish claims against Germany, it is absolutely clear that the conference cannot in any way commit the Jewish people with regard to other aspects of the German problem such as rearmament, denazification, democratization, etc. On these questions, Jewish organizations and individuals will continue to determine their own position quite independent of the proceedings of this conference.
ANALYZES VALUE OF CHANCELLOR ADENAUER’S STATEMENT
Chancellor Adenauer’s admission, in his recent statement, that the German people must bear the responsibility for Hitler’s crimes, and his offer to negotiate restitution, received the unanimous support of the Bonn parliament. But only when we see the Germans make genuine progress towards crushing anti-Semitism, only when we know that what the Chancellor may offer as ‘restitution’ bears some relation to the magnitude of our loss, will we be able to evaluate the true significance of the Chancellor’s declaration.
“It is unfortunate, in this connection, that the Government of East Germany has not seen fit to assume responsibilities similar to those enunciated by the Bonn regime.
“The great majority of the organizations here assembling have already voiced full support of the Government of Israel’s claims against Germany. I am certain that this support will be unanimous. The importance of this conference will be measured by the unity we attain on all problems before it. I am confident that we will work together to save something from the Nazi holocaust and, by so doing, serve the Jewish people.”