WASHINGTON (Aug. 27)
The Mutual Security Bill, as passed by Congress in the final hours before adjournment last Sunday morning, includes a proviso empowering the Austrian Government to divert surplus counterpart funds for the relief of aged and needy victims of the Nazi regime, it became known here today.
The provision, originally introduced in an amendment by Sen. Jacob K. Javits of New York, was rewritten and in its final form, provides that any surplus which exists up to a maximum of 100 million Austrian schillings (approximately $4 million) can be used for any purpose approved by both the Austrian Government and the International Cooperation Administration.
However, the report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Javits amendment clearly stated that it was “designed in particular to make it possible for the Austrian Government to lend 100 million counterpart Austrian schillings to the Austrian Hilfsfond for use in compensating former Austrian nationals who were persecuted under the Nazi regime and are now residing outside Austria.”
The Foreign Relations Committee noted that “although Austrian law now requires all claimants to be paid eventually, it is desirable that the process be hastened in view of the advanced age of the claimants.”
The Hilsfond (assistance fund), set up under the terms of an agreement between the Austrian Government and the Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria, provided for the eventual payment of 550 million schillings (approximately $22 million). But it also provided that no more than 10 percent of the total might be appropriated by the Austrian Parliament for this purpose in any one year. Under these circumstances, Jewish groups have pointed out, many aged claimants who are in desperate need might not live long enough to receive the aid due them.
(In New York today, the American Jewish Committee, which was active in behalf of the amendment to the Mutual Security Act, hailed Congressional approval as a “humanitarian” gesture. Is said the amendment “forecasts an essential improvement in the vital functioning of the Assistance Fund.”)