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Cool Atmosphere Marks Austrian-jewish Reparations Talks in Vienna

The reparations talks which started here yesterday between experts designated by the world Jewish groups claiming compensation from Austria for damages suffered by Jews under the Nazi regime and officials of the Austrian Government are proceeding in a coldly formal atmosphere.

This fact has provoked surprise in various circles, especially since the Austrian Cabinet only two days ago accepted a draft of two measures aimed at extending restitution and compensation benefits to former Austrian Jews now living abroad who surrendered their Austrian citizenship.

The Jewish experts today indicated that 95,000 Austrian Jews now living abroad, as well as 12,000 Jews in Austria, have not received proper compensation for the losses they suffered under the Nazi regime in Austria. They pointed out, as an example, that Austrian Jews now residing in the United States or in Israel have received no compensation at all for unjustified imprisonment by the Nazis. They also demanded that the Austrian Government should aid Jewish refugees who have lost their living quarters in Austria.

DIFFERENCES DEVELOP OVER HEIRLESS PROPERTY ISSUE

The major differences between the Jewish experts and the Austrian officials seem to have developed around the question of heirless Jewish property. The Austrian officials refuse to recognize the Jewish demand for a lump sum payment for such property, and assert that the demand is not in line with the real value of the property.

(The Manchester Guardian, a leading British newspaper, today reported from Vienna that the Austrian-Jewish reparations negotiations “are likely to prove long and difficult owing to sharp divergences over fundamental questions.” The report said that the Austrian officials take the view that when heirless property can be proved to be Jewish, it should be used for the benefit of the small Jewish communities in Austria and under no circumstances for the benefit of Israel or of Jewish groups outside Austria.)

At a reception for Adolph Held, chairman of the American Jewish Labor Committee, who is a member of the Jewish reparations delegation, Austrian Vice-Chancellor Adolf Schaerf, a Socialist leader, emphasized that the Socialist Party of Austria, one of the two government parties, will strongly support in Parliament passage of a law providing reparations payments for Jewish victims of Nazism. However, he added that with regard to heirless Jewish property, the matter depends largely upon Austria’s financial ability to pay. The reception for Mr. Held was given by the Austrian Socialist Party.

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