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German Parliament Acts on Indemnification Pledge Made to Jews

The Bundestag–Lower House of the German Parliament–today passed the first reading of a draft of the Federal law to indemnify individual victims of the Nazis which was pledged by the German Government when it concluded its reparations agreement with the world Jewish organizations.

There was no formal vote on the measure, introduced by Jeanette Wolff, a survivor of a concentration camp and a leader in Jewish communal affairs, except that the Communist deputies registered their opposition to the measure.

Earlier today, the Bundestag Legal Committee, which had been considering the draft for several weeks, almost unanimously voted to recommend approval of the present draft. Some committee members had reservations about many of the bill’s aspects, but were impressed by last week’s surprise challenge by the Social Democrats to accept this or any other version of the law so far offered.

At that time the Social Democrats warned that unless the measure were approved immediately by the committee and all debate ended it would not be possible to pass the bill at this session. Any attempt to bring about changes at this stage would mean a delay until 1954, they said.

Today’s step is an important one, but does not mean final adoption of the bill. It must still win approval of the Bundestag in two more readings and then must again be ratified by the Bundesrat–the Upper House.

In Berlin, the Legal Committee of the Berlin municipal House of Representatives, today approved a measure for the establishment in Berlin of a Supreme Restitution Court, with final jurisdiction in all restitution cases in the city. The measure becomes effective July 1.

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