German Parliament Liberalizes Compensation Law for Nazi Victims

The Bundestag, West Germany’s lower house, approved yesterday amendments to the 1957 compensation law to liberalize provisions for claimants who lost personal effects in Nazi-occupied countries during the war. Approval is expected by the Bundesrat, the upper house.

The 1957 law, called BRUEG, provided for compensation to victims who had lost household furniture, securities, gold, jewelry and similar personal possessions if the claimants could prove that their lost property had been shipped to Hitler’s Reich. Thousands of such victims, advised that it would be impossible to provide such proof, did not file claims.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims, however, submitted documentation later to West German officials that the Nazis had ordered that all such loot be shipped to the Reich and the BRUEG law was amended to set up a special fund for 400,000,000 marks ($100,000,000) to pay compensation for such losses. Jewish organizations immediately protested that the fund was too small. The legislation approved yesterday doubled the fund to $200,000,000.

Another liberalization approved yesterday provides that claimants are to receive 100 per cent compensation on accepted claims for proven losses of such personal possessions. Previously the law had provided for 100 per cent payments on such claims for a fixed ceiling–originally 20,000 marks–and 50 per cent on approved claims above that ceiling.

The Bundestag and the State Parliaments, which are represented in the Bundesrat, are expected to discuss the amended law in the middle of July. The State Governments, under the law, are responsible for partial payments of such claims.

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