Hopes for Agreement with Austria on Jewish Claims Shattered

The Jewish delegation which has been negotiating with the Austrian Government for the entire month of June in the hopes of receiving an acceptable offer in settlement of claims against the Austrian Government for Jewish personal and communal property losses and damage during the Nazi regime today had its hopes all but shattered.

Dr. Reinhardt Kamitz, Austrian Finance Minister, who only a week ago had held out the offer of 120,000, 000 schillings as a lump sum settlement for heirless Jewish property, has now reversed his position and offered 50, 000,000 schillings. Beside this, he has made a number of other unacceptable offers in settlement of various other claims, again in contradiction of what earlier appeared to be satisfactory offers. The Jewish delegation is quite bewildered and shocked by the sudden Austrian reversal and, although it is continuing to meet with the Austrians, is very pessimistic of the outcome.

When he proferred the 50, 000, 000 schilling settlement, Dr. Reinhardt declared that the Austrian Government experts estimate the total value of the heirless property involved in the claim at only 25, 000,000 schillings, but the Austrian Government is willing to double this figure. The Jewish delegation, which had been prepared to make some sacrifice in reaching a settlement, considers this offer unacceptable.

The second surprise pulled by Dr. Kamitz is an offer to pay pensions halted by the Nazis only to Jewish former government employees. He would specifically exempt from this pension offer doctors, lawyers and private employees now living abroad. The delegation considers such a proposal as discriminating against Jewish victims of the Nazis.

Thirdly, the Austrian Finance Minister insisted that it was impossible to pay compensation for individual losses such as household furniture, except for Jews now living in Austria or willing to return to Austria, This offer is in complete contradiction of previous promises.

As far as property which cannot be restored is concerned–such as securities and bank accounts–the government would only agree to “study” the problem, and would be willing to “consider” amending legislation in behalf of victims of Nazism in this direction. The Jewish delegation feels that these vague terms do not fix the Austrian Government’s liabilities in this field.

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