BONN (May. 25)
The West German Government was severely criticized here today for its failure to present a concrete proposal on reparations to Israel and to Jewish communities in other countries.
Fear that a collapse of the reparations talks would have unfavorable effects on German prestige abroad, were expressed by Dr. Kurt Schumacher, leader of the Social Democratic Party. He urged immediate action by the government to offer a “substantial” amount to Israel.
Dr. Adolf Arndt, an opposition leader, charged that the government parties were trying to sabotage the reparations talks at The Hague. He complained that he had repeatedly attempted to have reparations items included in the new budget but had been defeated in the Bundestag committee by Dr. Fritz Schaeffer, the Finance Minister.
The basic cleavage between Hermann Abs, head of the German mission at the London international conference on Germany’s external debts, and Prof. Franz Boehm, head of the delegation negotiating a reparations settlement, which led to the resignation of Boehm and his deputy chairman, Dr. Otto Kuester, was clarified today.
Dr. Abs, it was disclosed, took the position that no concrete offer to Israel was possible before the end of the London conference as, only then, could the total German ability to pay be assessed. Dr. Schaeffer supported Dr. Abs in this stand and insisted that the West German Republic could make its binding overall offer to Israel only after the question of payment on Germany’s external debts had been settled. He also pointed out that the question of reparations payments had not been considered when plans for Germany’s defense and remilitarization had been drafted.
(In London, The Recorder, newspaper published in the financial district, reported that there was little chance of the London conference coming to an agreement during its current session. The paper said participants in the conference believe that proposals by Dr. Abs for payment of Germany’s commercial debts will be “quite unacceptable” to her creditors.)
Dr. Boehm took the stand that there is no connection between the London conference and the parleys at The Hague between Germany and the Israeli and Jewish delegations on reparations. He points out that Israel’s claims would be settled mainly by payments in kind rather than in foreign exchange. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer has himself admitted the moral priority of Israel’s claims.