NEW YORK (Jan. 15)
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany announced today the allocation of $10,000,000 for 1956 to be used for relief, rehabilitation, cultural restoration and educational reconstruction in behalf of about 110,000 surviving victims of Nazis in 22 countries. The action on this allocation was taken by representatives of 22 world Jewish organizations now meeting here. They compose the conference’s board of directors.
Today’s allocation brings the total of the Conference’s allocations to $30,000,000, averaging about $10,000,000 a year. It was revealed by the Conference today that 87 percent of the $10,000,000 allocated in 1955 had been paid out to beneficiaries by the end of last year and the remainder had been committed to use. A total of $7,516,000, more than three-fourths of the Conference’s 1956 allocations, have been granted for relief and rehabilitation purposes alone. This exceeds by over a quarter of a million dollars, the sum assigned for relief and rehabilitation last year.
The representatives of the 22 world Jewish organizations directed an urgent appeal to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, of the German Federal Republic, and to the German Parliament, now in session, for immediate legislative action to improve existing laws for the compensation of victims of Nazi persecution. In a formal resolution adopted by the Conference, the Jewish leaders asked the Bonn Parliament specifically to increase by “a modest lump sum payment,” the compensation due to displaced persons for the tremendous economic losses suffered while imprisoned by the Nazis and to “clearly establish” the eligibility for compensation of persons who suffered persecution and imprisonment in Nazi-occupied or Nazi satellite countries during the war. The resolution pointed out that countries such as Rumania and Hungary, which may have been technically independent, nevertheless engaged in anti-Jewish acts at the direct instigation of the Reich Government.
In addition to the resolution, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the man who initiated the Bonn-Israel reparations negotiations three years ago, will personally carry an appeal to Chancellor Adenauer to help alleviate the plight of thousands of Nazi victims who receive little or no compensation. Dr. Goldmann, who expects to meet with the Chancellor before the end of this month, called on Dr. Adenauer as “one of the architects of the Bonn-Israel agreement and the statesman who represents the moral conscience of Germany today,” to use his great influence with Parliament to effect major improvements in the present indemnification laws.
DR. GOLDMANN DISAPPOINTED WITH LAG IN GERMAN INDEMNIFICATION PROGRAM
Dr. Goldmann noted that there was a “reluctance” in Germany to improve benefits for persons who resided outside that country at the time of their persecution. “On the other hand, the last debate in Parliament on the occasion of the first reading of the amendments to the indemnification laws, showed a certain awareness of the obligation of the government in this area, “he pointed out. He said he was keenly disappointed with the lag in the German restitution and indemnification program. Only about one-eighth of over a million restitution claims filed by Nazi victims have received Government approval, although more than sixyears have elapsed since the indemnification program first got under way, “he stated.
On the credit side of the ledger, Dr. Goldmann expressed satisfaction with the implementation, to date, of the Bonn-Israel reparations pact and with the Reich Claims Law, now under consideration by Parliament, which provides compensation to Nazi victims for bank accounts, securities jewelry and other personal valuables seized or plundered by the Nazis. He reported that in total of $210,000,000 in capital goods and services have been received by Israel from. West Germany since the reparations pact went into effect on June 30th, 1953. Of this sum, $53,000,000 in goods and services were delivered to Israel in 1955 alone and deliveries in 1956 are expected to proceed at the same rate.
The reparations agreement, signed at Luxembourg in 1952, provides for the payment to Israel by West Germany of a total of $822,000,000 over a twelve-year period. By special agreement with the Israel Government, the sum of $107,000,000 of the over-all amount is assigned to the Conference on Jewish Material Clams Against Germany for its global programs. Dr. Goldmann explained, however, that the German reparations funds paid and payable to Israel are intended to defray, in part, the past expenses incurred by that nation in providing a haven for 500,000 Jewish refugees from Nazism. He stressed that German reparations payments in no way apply to Israel’s running program of immigration and immigrant absorption and resettlement which is financed through the United Jewish Appeal in America and similar appeals abroad.
Jacob Blaustein, senior vice president of the Claims Conference and honorary president of the American Jewish Committee, one of the constituent organizations of the Conference, reported that the funds available for allocation by the Conference this year represent only a third of the amounts requested. More than 400 Jewish organizations applied for allocations exceeding $30,000,000 of which over $22,000,000 was asked for relief and rehabilitation projects,” Mr. Blaustein said. “Allocations are based primarily on the urgency of needs,” he explained, “a requirement imposed upon the Conference by the terms of the agreement with the German Federal Republic.”