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Germany to Compensate Italian Jewry for Nazi Ransom, Stolen Library

The West German Government has agreed to pay the Italian Jewish community a total of 4,500,000 Deutschemarks ($1,125,000) in compensation for the 110 pounds of gold and the 70,000-volume library which the Nazi occupation authorities exacted from the Jews of Rome in October 1943, in return for a pledge by the Nazis guaranteeing their safety. The Nazis later broke their pledge, when thousands of Rome’s Jews were deported to death camps.

The restitution agreement, which followed two years of negotiations, was signed in a Berlin Civil Court this weekend by Fritz Becker, the World Jewish Congress representative in Italy, on behalf of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and the Rome Jewish community, and by a representative of the West German Foreign Ministry. Half of the restitution funds are to be paid immediately, according to the agreement, while the remainder will be paid when additional funds are allocated by the Bonn Government.

Italian Jewish circles expressed satisfaction today with the terms of the agreement, and said they considered the total adequate compensation. Most of the gold was reportedly found in Silesia at the end of the Second World War. The missing library, which included priceless manuscripts and volumes dating to the 15th century, has never been found.

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