MAINZ, Germany (Apr. 7)
Social Democratic leaders in this Rhineland city castigated today the provincial Finance Minister, Free Democratic Party leader Wilhelm Nowack, for trying to make “scapegoats” of claimants for compensation for damage and injuries suffered under the Nazis.
As the March 31 deadline for filing compensation claims neared, Nowack told the provincial legislature that the post office at Koblenz had been forced to assign special trucks to handle the allegedly vast volume of mail resulting from last minute claims filed just with the province of Rhineland-Pfalz. The Socialists insist he was trying to blame the victims of Nazism for a large deficit in his budget.
Days before the deadline radio stations and newspapers were publishing similar rumors. One such report had it that a special EI AI plane was arriving from Israel loaded down with applications. When the regularly scheduled weekly plane arrived from Israel, it was found to be carrying just 198 application letters. Other rumors appeared to be based on as little hard evidence.
Meanwhile, Jewish officials have begun work on a preliminary estimate of the total number of applications filed since the law went into effect several years ago to last week’s cut-off. Many of the applications are expected to be rejected and it will be along time before final figures are available on the number of Nazi victims compensated and the cost to the German treasury.
An agreement between IG Farben and the Conference on Material Jewish Claims Against Germany for the payment of some 27, 000, 000 marks in compensation for wages and damages to slave laborers supplied by the Nazis and exploited in IG Farben plants during the last war went into effect last week. The agreement followed decisions by the German courts granting the claims of Norbert Wollheim, postwar German Jewish leader and now an American resident, to wages and damages for the time he was forced to work for IG Farben.