Highest Tribunal in Germany Rules in Favor of Jewish Victims

West Germany’s highest tribunal, the Federal Supreme Court here, has rejected persistent efforts to exclude the survivors a such concentration camps as Theresienstadt and Auschwitz from the benefits of the “immediate-aid” section for individual Nazi victims in the Federal Indemnification Law.

The court turned down an appeal by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate against a test case decision of the Neustadt Superior Court, which ruled that Erna Vogler, a Jewess deported from Neustadt to Theresienstadt, was eligible for the $1,425 “immediate-aid compensation payment.” The Neustadt court ruling upset a decision of the Indemnification Chamber of the district court at Frankenthal last year denying Mrs. Vogler’s claim by use of what critics called strained legalisms and tortuous reasoning.

At stake is the 1956 amendment to the Federal law, applying only to former residents of Germany. The clause provides that if they emigrated because of Nazi persecution, were deported or expelled, they are entitled to the $1,425 allowance if they return to West Germany for permanent settlement.

The provision was adopted to put victims of Nazism on an indemnification footing comparable at least to that of returned Nazi prisoners-of-war and of ethnic German expellees or refugees. Prior to passage of the amendment, Germans in those categories could get help more quickly for a new start than were the German Jews who returned to Germany for resettlement.

Some of the German states, particularly Rhineland-Palatinate, barred from “immediate-aid” benefits Jews sent to non-German camps like Theresienstadt, who returned to West Germany after the war. Some indemnification authorities and lower courts in these states contended that such Jewish applicants had not been “deported” or “expelled” within the meaning of the indemnification law and hence ineligible.

The decision of the Supreme Court was considered a blow against what is called “cold sabotage,” and a victory for the Central Council of Jews in Germany which fought the issue by repeated intervention with the many German governmental agencies concerned. The Council supported Mrs. Vogler in her suit Dr. H. G. van Dam Council Secretary-General, appeared in Mrs, Vogler’s behalf in both the Neustadt and Federal Supreme Court hearings.

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