German Reparations Payments Are Not “atonement,” Sharett Says
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German Reparations Payments Are Not “atonement,” Sharett Says

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Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett made it clear today that the reparations agreement he signed at Luxemburg yesterday with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of the Federal German Republic could not be conceived as “an atonement” by Germany of the crimes committed against the Jews under the Nazi regime.

Mr. Sharett, who received the press today at the Israel Legation here, described the Israel-German agreement as “unique in the annals of international relations” and said:

“Our memory is still haunted by the campaign of mass annihilation carried on by the German National Socialist regime against the Jewish people in which were destroyed two out of every three Jews in Europe and one out of every three throughout the world.

“In the consciousness of our people, this fearful wound remains open. Indeed, it is impossible to conceive of an atonement for millions of innocent lives cut down and for torments so wantonly inflicted.

“Together with all civilized mankind we can only hope that the evil spirit which produced these horrors has been exercised forever from the soul of the German nation. Today we are faced with a tremendous departure. The Federal Republic of Germany has pledged itself to make global recompense for part of the material damage suffered by the Jewish people. This act of reparation is of historical significance. It was adopted in the exercise of free will and in obedience with the call of moral responsibility. Its educative value for the German people and its importance as a precedent in world history cannot be exaggerated.

“The fulfillment of the obligation assumed will assist the growth and consolidation of the economy of Israel, a country which has absorbed such large numbers of fugitives from disaster and which keeps its gates open for all persecuted Jews so that they no longer fall helpless victims to blind hatred and dark prejudice.

“By honoring its undertaking to Israel and the Jewish people, the Federal Republic of Germany will tangibly demonstrate its determination to redress in some measure a wrong committed. Thereby it will also be given a chance of making a distinctive contribution to the establishment of law and justice in human society.”


Dr. Nahum Goldmann, presiding officer of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, says that Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was the German most responsible for the success of the negotiations. Dr. Goldmann, who initiated the preliminary talks that led to the negotiations, said that Dr. Adenauer had made his first statement on German obligations to the Jews of his own free will and strove continually to ensure the success of the negotiations.

He pointed out that nearly all political parties in Bonn had backed the German Government and paid special tribute to the late Dr. Kurt Schumacher, Social-Democratic leader, who, as leader of the main opposition party, had worked hand in hand with Dr. Adenauer for success in the Israel-German negotiations.

Dr. Goldmann said that major Jewish organizations would seek compensation for heirless property in Austria and expressed belief that the United States would support the Jewish claims. He said informal talks with Austrian officials had already taken place.

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