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German Finance Ministry Opposes Extension of Indemnification Law

A West German Finance Ministry spokesman indicated today that the Ministry would fight any attempt to liberalize or expand two amendments to extend existing indemnification benefits to victims of Nazism.

The announcement made remote the likelihood of any Parliamentary action before summer even on the minor improvements embodied in the amendments, which were introduced to Parliament last November.

“With the passage of these bills and by the time all claims will have been settled, West Germany will have paid out $10, 000, 000, 000 in restitution and compensation to victims of Nazi persecution, ” the spokesman said, “There is no way the government can be induced or pressured into going beyond the amount established in the bills now pending before the Bundestag.”

The spokesman said that there would be a flood of new claims if the October 1, 1953 deadline in the current law was to be lifted. “No one knows how many persecutees have left Eastern Europe since October 1, 1953 or how many will still leave those areas and file claims for compensation, “he stated, “but it is not inconceivable that lifting the deadline could cost the Government as much as an additional $1, 500, 000, 000 before anything is said and done, ” He added “that kind of money we just don’t have.”

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and various Jewish refugee organizations have asked that victims of Nazism caught behind the Iron Curtain who could not file by the 1953 deadline be given the same treatment as those who were able to file. One of the government amendments would set up a fund of $150, 000, 000 for onetime payments for the Nazi victims who could not file. The spokesman said that the fund would make it possible to pay between $1, 000 and $1, 250 to each such victim.

On another issue in dispute between the West German Government and refugees–that of compensating victims for property confiscated by the Nazis in occupied countries–it was reported that the Finance Ministry was ready to yield somewhat. One of the amendments would provide a $100, 000, 000 fund for one-time payments to cover principal claims for jewelry and household goods confiscated and known to have been shipped by the Nazis to the Third Reich.

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