German Reparations Funds Allocated for Jewish Cultural Program
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German Reparations Funds Allocated for Jewish Cultural Program

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Nearly $1,000, 000 from West Germany’s first reparations payments to Israel has been allocated for use during 1954 in an unprecedented program of cultural rehabilitation including scholarships and fellowships to Nazi victims and for the salvage of the vast cultural treasures destroyed by the Nazis. The allocation was voted today by the board of directors of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany meeting at the Hotel Roosevelt here.

Attending the board meetings are more than 40 representatives of the major Jewish organizations and communities in the free world. More than a half of this sum of $900, 000 will be devoted to a program of grants to Jewish students and teachers, known as the “Yavne Fellowships” after a town in Palestine in which the greatest academicians and intellectuals of the second Jewish Commonwealth congregated to pursue Jewish learning following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

This is part of over $9, 000, 000 which the conference assigned today to aid more than 30,000 needy Jewish victims of Nazism who now live in Western Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia and the Far East. The allocations include funds providing legal assistance to about 100,000 individual claimants seeking restitution and indemnification from West Germany. The $9, 000, 000 is the conference share of the moneys received by Israel to date under the $822,000,000 Bonn-Israel Reparations Agreement.


The conference unanimously went on record as satisfied with West Germany’s compliance, so far, with the terms of her year-old reparations pact with Israel. However, the resolution deplores the Bonn Government’s failure to implement and improve its indemnification laws and thereby alleviate the hardships of many thousands of claimants. The resolution demanded that the German Federal Government correct “without further delay” the deficiencies of the Indemnification Law and called for the immediate issuance by Bonn of regulations for its effective implementation.

The program for cultural rehabilitation is intended to help fill the almost irreparable gap left by the destruction of great Jewish centers of learning, of schools, synagogues, libraries, museums and archives and by the loss of countless numbers of Jewish lay and professional leaders which has robbed Jewish communities throughout the world of a great cultural potential.


Addressing the board, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Conference president, declared that while “the physical needs of Nazi victims today are greater than all of the funds available to the Conference, a portion of the funds must be used to restore and reinvigorate the Jewish values and traditions the Nazis sought to destroy as relentlessly as they did our people. “

“The conference. ” Dr. Goldmann said, “is fulfilling in the cultural sphere a unique and historic function. It is the first time that Jewish public funds of such dimensions will be devoted, among other purposes, to create a comprehensive scholarship program designed to foster Jewish learning.”

The program will include scholarships and fellowships for Jewish studies; special projects for, independent research by scholars in the fields of Jewish creative arts and sciences; stipends for students in Yeshivas, rabbinical seminaries transplanted from Eastern Europe; grants-in-aid to Jewish teachers who were victims of Nazism; the salvage, restoration and preservation of Jewish bocks, manuscripts, historical documents, records, works of art, religious articles and other cultural treasures which were destroyed or lost during the Nazi regime in Europe.

The program is based on the recommendations of a group of outstanding scholars from America and Europe who constitute a Cultural Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Salo W. Baron of Columbia University, which has been studying the problem of cultural restoration for over a year. It will be carried cut in cooperation with established Jewish organizations in various fields and with Jewish communities of Europe.

The program of grants of Jewish students and teachers includes scholarships to Jewish schools on an undergraduate level, graduate fellowships to Nazi victims. Stipends will be awarded to advance students in yeshivot transplanted from Europe to countries outside of Europe and Israel. Other grants will be distributed among students in European yeshivot.


The bulk of the funds available, the conference board announced, will be expended for cash relief, feeding programs, child care, medical care, care of the aged, cultural and educational assistance, vocational training, emigration assistance and rehabilitation and reconstruction loans to survivors of Nazism.

The conference board of directors announced that the Joint Distribution Committee with a record of four decades as a major international relief organization, will be entrusted with the administration of funds and the supervision of their use by established relief organizations in the countries concerned. The conference monies will supplement the funds available from the United Jewish Appeal which are unable, alone, to meet the great volume of relief and rehabilitation needs.

The meetings considered applications totalling $54,000,000 for relief and rehabilitation activities from 100 organizations operating in 31 countries, more than six times the sum available this year. In assigning priorities, the conference has had to assess the areas of greatest need.

The conference announced that it has undertaken financial responsibility for the operations of the United Restitution Organization which will be called upon to help obtain legal assistance for the prosecution of restitution and indemnification claims on Germany by an estimated 100, 000 individuals.

Other leading Jewish welfare and communal organizations which, jointly with JDC, will implement the relief and rehabilitation program, include. Israelitische Kultusgemeinde of Vienna, the Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle of Germany, the Fonds Social Juis Unifie of France, the Unione delle Communita Israelitische Italiane of Italy, the Aide aux Israelites Victimes de la Guerre, in Brussels, the Central Beheer Van Joodsche Weldadigheid of Antwerp, the Mosaiska Foersamlingen of Sweden, the Central Council of Jewish Communities in Greece, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia and others.


From reports at the meeting of the board, it became evident that West Germany is living up to the terms of her reparations agreement with Israel by delivering goods on schedule. However, the Board noted that a disturbing lag in the implementation and improvement of German indemnification legislation is causing hardships for many thousands of Hitler’s victims. Dr. Nahum Goldmann warned that “we cannot view with equanimity a situation in which thousands of claims remain unsatisfied because the German authorities fail to apply themselves diligently enough to the implementation of the indemnification legislation. “

The vast industrial and agricultural development programs and irrigation projects for which German deliveries are being used in Israel, were outlined by Dr. Giora Josephthal, treasurer of the Jewish Agency and head of the Reparations Corporation which acts as purchasing agent for the Israel Government. Dr. Josephthal told the board that Israel has obtained $95, 000,000 from Germany in goods and credits since the reparations agreement went into effect in March, 1953, and another $60,000, 000 will have been received by March 31st, 1955.

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