Austria Blames Allies for Its Refusal to Meet Jewish Claims

The Government of Austria today issued a communique stating that it is unable at this time to settle Jewish claims arising from the Nazi regime because of the state treaty drafted by the four occupying powers. The lengthy communique was described as a reply to charges made by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, head of the Conference on Jewish Claims on Austria, in London last week in which he virtually accused the Austrian Government of breaking its promises to settle the restitution question with the Jewish groups.

The communique today added, however, that various Austrian government officials concerned with the problem were currently studying Dr. Goldmann’s five-page letter on this subject to Austrian Chancellor Julius Raab.

Today’s announcement said that under the treaty drafted by the Allied powers, the deadline for claiming property seized by the Nazis was six months after ratification of the treaty, and all attempts by the Austrian Government to get the deadline advanced have been turned down by the Allies.

GOVERNMENT STATEMENT SAYS AUSTRIA IS NOT SOVEREIGN

The announcement pointed out also that the treaty provides that the fate of property not claimed by the deadline will be decided unanimously by the Allies and Austria at that time. It also underscored the fact that Austria was not sovereign and could not change the deadline date on its own authority.

The announcement also quoted a letter sent by Chancellor Raab to Dr. Goldmann last month asserting that the Jewish negotiators “apparently overlooked that the Nazis carried out persecution of a large part of the Austrian population.” He said it would therefore be a breach of the constitution “if one-sided measures were taken to ease the needs of individual victims of this persecution.”

(The New York Times, in an editorial analyzing Austria’s arguments against the payment of indemnification for heirless Jewish property. says today: “Whatever the validity of these arguments, there is one point that would seem to take precedence over all others, and this is that the issue is not primarily a legal one, and in view of the sum involved not even one of economics, but first and foremost a moral one. Since the anti-Jewish atrocities were perpetrated not only by German but also by Austrian Nazis, it would seem that the Austrian Government would act in its own best interest if it did its utmost to settle the issue in conformity with the conscience of the Western World, to which it belongs.”)

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