Austrian Finance Minister Reports to Parliament on Jewish Talks

Austria did not enter the negotiations with representatives of world Jewish organizations on Jewish claims for damages wrought by the Nazi regime because it was under any “obligation” to make restitution or pay reparations, Dr. Reinhardt Kamitz, Austrian Finance Minister, declared today as the Austrian Parliament resumed its discussion of the negotiations.

The Parliamentary debate was touched off yesterday by questions raised by Social Democratic deputies. The first to reply to these questions was Chancellor Julius Raab who spoke yesterday. Today, the Finance Minister told Parliament that the Austrian Government does not consider Austria responsible for the suffering of Austrian Jewry during the Nazi regime. He insisted that full responsibility rests with Germany.

Reviewing the course of negotiations, Dr, Kamitz said that the Jewish negotiators had first put forward a demand for 1,500,000,000 schillings, which they termed a “moral obligation on the Austrian Government.” At a later date, Dr. Kamitz reported, the Jewish delegation estimated losses of Jews in Austria during the Nazi regime at some 30,000,000,000 schillings. He insisted that during the negotiations the Jewish representatives had failed to give “due consideration” to Austria’s “special situation.”

JEWISH GROUPS ASKED FOR $12,000,000 FOR HEIRLESS PROPERTY

In the final stage of negotiations last September, the Finance Minister said, the Jewish negotiators had reduced their demands to a lump sum payment of 300,000,000 schillings ($12,000,000) for heirless Jewish property. This demand was reiterated in a message from Dr. Nahum Goldmann in October after Chancellor Raab had requested him to present new proposals for resumption of the Austro-Jewish talks, Dr. Kamitz said.

During the course of the negotiations, he revealed, the Austrian Government had received protests from the Arab states against a settlement of the Jewish claims similar to the one arrived at by Bonn. In addition, he asserted, various Austrian and foreign organizations had informed the government that they did not recognize the Jewish negotiators in Vienna as their representatives.

The Socialist newspaper Arbeiterzeitung, commenting on Dr. Kamitz’ statements, declared that they “do not conform with the declaration delivered by the (Austrian) government representatives earlier in the negotiations.”

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