WASHINGTON (Nov. 21)
A delegation of American Jewish leaders met here this week-end with State Department officials and leading members, of the Senate and placed before them the facts about the Austrian Government’s “lamentable failure to solve one of the most poignant legacies of the Nazi rule–the claims of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution in Austria.”
The meeting took place on the eve of the scheduled arrival here today of Dr. Julius Raab, Chancellor of Austria, on an official visit to this country. He will be received this week by President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Dr. Raab left Vienna by air yesterday without having achieved any settlement of the claims presented to the Austrian Government by Jewish organizations.
Emphasizing that “under the present circumstances,”- the attitude of the Austrian Government – there is no basis on which the Jewish groups can continue their negotiations with the authorities in Vienna, the Jewish delegation told Deputy Undersecretary of State Robert Murphy of the current status of these negotiations, which started about a year and a half ago. It is presumed that the State Department will discuss the subject of Jewish claims during talks with Dr. Raab here.
The delegation was led by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chief negotiator of the German-Israel reparations pact and chairman of the Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria, which speaks for the Jews still living in Austria and for the major Jewish organizations throughout the world. The delegation conferred with Senator Alexander Wiley, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Walter F. George, ranking Democratic member of this committee. Sen. Wiley expressed sympathy, the delegation reported. He expressed the hope that there would be a prompt and equitable settlement of the long-pending claims.
AUSTRIAN GOVT. CHARGED WITH SABOTAGING JEWISH CLAIMS TALKS
In a statement released after these meetings, Dr. Goldmann detailed the history of the negotiations with Austria, which were begun in June, 1953, and were suspended twice by the Austrian Government, Throughout these negotiations, Dr. Goldmann charged, progress was “hampered by Austrian insistence on details and legal objections which could have easily been overcome.”
He referred to recent reports of an impending new Austrian offer and said that “the terms, as reported in the press and through semi-official channels, are totally unacceptable.” In the absence of an Austrian proposal “which meets minimal requirements which have long since been made known to the Austrian Government,” Dr. Goldmann said, “we can see no basis for continuation of the negotiations. The record is clear. The conclusions to be drawn are self-evident.”
The Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria seeks the passage of the kind of legislation that has been in effect in Western Germany for several years providing minimum compensation to the tens of thousands of victims of Nazi persecution wherever they may now reside and whatever their present nationality may be of the 90,000 Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution in Austria, some 50,000 reside in the United States and some 7,000 in Austria.
The Committee also seeks a settlement for the property belonging to Austrian Jews who perished under the Nazis and left no heirs or claimants. The Committee asks for $12,000,000 and an advance payment of $6,000,000 to be used for the relief of victims of Nazism. This claim obviously is “not measured by the actual losses.” The Committee also requests special measures for the small remnant of Jews still residing in Austria.
While deferring these claims, the Austrian Government has periodically introduced legislation for the benefit of convicted Nazis. According to recent reports, Austria has circumvented Allied vetoes by means of administrative measures, the delegation stated. “We cannot fail to note the striking difference between West Germany and Austria in negotiating Jewish claims,” Dr. Goldmann said.
Other members of the delegation were: Jacob Blaustein, honorary president of the American Jewish Committee; Frank Goldman, honorary president of B’nai B’rith; Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress; Adolph Held, president of the Jewish Labor Committee; Seymour Rubin, counsel, and Saul Kagan, secretary to the Committee.