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Question of Jewish Claims Against Austria Raised in Knesset

Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said today the Israel Government hoped that the Government of Austria and the countries involved in the 1955 Austrian peace treaty would realize the duty to arrange a prompt settlement of Jewish claims for property losses during the 1938-45 Nazi regime.

Mrs. Meir made the statement in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, in reply to question from Yaacov Katz, Agudat Israel deputy, who noted that the damages, officially estimated at $1, 000, 000, had not been assumed by West Germany on the contention that Austria must bear the burden. The deputy cited provisions of the 1955 treaty with the Allied powers under which Austria agreed to provide legislation for compensation to victims of the Nazi regime in Austria.

He added that Austria had passed laws covering only about five percent of those losses for Austrian Jews, some 20, 000 of whom now live in Israel. He asked what steps were being taken by the Israel Government to assure that these victims would obtain adequate compensation as West Germany had done for other victims of the Nazi regime.

Mrs. Meir expressed regret that Jewish claims on Austria had not been met satisfactorily and said that the Israel Government felt that action to correct the situation must be synchronized with that of Jewish organizations. She said there was no room for separate actions. She stressed that Israel diplomats were in constant touch with Austrian authorities and were continuing to call to the attention of the Government the claims of Jewish organizations representing the entire Austrian Jewish community.

She revealed that all phases of the problem, including the peace treaty for which the four major powers constituted the authority for implementation of the treaty, were under active consideration of the Israel Foreign Ministry for an early settlement.

(In Vienna, Jewish leaders complained today that while Austria was celebrating 15th anniversary of its liberation from the Nazi regime, victims of that regime still were awaiting compensation. The complaints were reported in the Neue Welt, the only Jewish publication in Austria, which noted that many promises had been made little accomplished.)

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