BONN (Nov. 15)
Regret over the failure of the West German Government to bring to a close the laws for restitution and compensation to Nazi victims was expressed here today by Dr. Nahum Goldmann following three days of negotiations with key finance officials on legislation to complete the restitution and compensation laws.
Declaring that not even a draft of the requested legislation had been ready for consideration, Dr. Goldmann said that he and his colleagues, acting on behalf of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, had been negotiating on the question for more than two years with no progress. He said that hence neither the federal nor the state governments of West Germany nor the West Parliamentary Commission on Indemnification had been in a position to discuss the question.
One Key issue is amendment of the laws to make possible payments to Jewish claimants who were unable to meet the 1953 deadline because they were then in Iron Curtain countries and could not apply. Dr. Goldmann declared that there was increasing uneasiness among many thousands of victims of Nazism waiting to benefit from the needed changes in the law and he hinted at the possibility of public demonstrations against the lag.
He added that the existing law had been carried out satisfactorily with the West German Government thereby gaining the appreciation of both the Jewish and non-Jewish world. He said that for this reason a dilatory and “too fiscal” attitude on the question of completing the laws would be all the more regrettable.
He said that while he had much understanding for the fiscal considerations, the requested legislation would not increase current expenditures for restitution and compensation but would at best only bring an extension of the deadline for filing claims by several years.
He emphasized that such legislation from its inception had been based on the principle that, as a moral obligation of the new Germany, it had priority over all normal obligations both of the federal and state governments. He cited a statement by Finance Minister Heinz Starke in the West German Parliament on the country’s 1963 federal budget to the effect that the Federal Government regarded final legislation on indemnification as a debt of honor on the part of the Germans.
Dr. Goldmann concluded his comments with an expression of the hope that the federal and state governments would act speedily, generously and sympathetically in recognition of the urgency of the matter.