Jewish Claims Conference Establishes $10,000,000 Cultural Foundation

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany concluded a two-day session here today with the creation of a Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. The initial capital of $10,000,000 for the new foundation came from allocations from reparations paid by West Germany to Jewish victims of the Nazi holocaust.

Grants from the foundation, which will be incorporated in New York State, will be made available to Jewish scholars and Jewish cultural institutions throughout the world, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Claims Conference president, said. He declared that the role of the Claims Conference as spokesman for Jews entitled to individual restitution and indemnification would continue; “Just as long as legislation is in progress in these areas in West Germany, we will continue our efforts,” he said.

He also reported to the session on recent negotiations held with Chancellor Ludwig Erhard and other West German Government officials by the senior officers of the Claims Conference–Dr. Goldmann, Senior Vice-President Jacob Blaustein, and Treasurer Moses Leavitt. In those talks, Dr. Goldmann said, a partial success was achieved in recently approved legislation voting a fund of 800,000,000 marks ($200,000,000) for refugees who had become eligible to file for claims for movable properties confiscated by the Nazis in occupied countries.

Dr. Goldmann said that the original bill called for a fund of 400,000,000 marks ($100,000,000) and that the Claims Conference was “gratified that we were instrumental in doubling this sum.” He pointed out, however, that the more important sought-for legislation–indemnification for those victims who have received nothing because they could not file by the October 1953 deadline–was still pending and will not be debated in the West German Parliament until the coming fall.

“Our hands have been strengthened in this respect by the fact that deadlines have been removed for groups of German refugees from the East and by the fact that an additional 350,000 of them are now entitled to compensation,” he added. “Refusing similar consideration to Jewish refugees would be a definite act of discrimination.”

He explained that the Claims Conference had rejected a West German offer to set up a special fund for Jewish victims who left Iron Curtain countries after the 1953 deadline. “We don’t want a limited fund set up for them,” he said; “We believe that they are entitled to the same indemnification benefits as those who were in a position to file claims before the deadline.”

He expressed appreciation for Chancellor Erhard’s meeting with Claims Conference officials and for his serious consideration of the Claims Conference proposal. He hailed the action of the Social Democrats who said they were ready to submit their own proposal to scrap the October 1953 deadline if no understanding was reached with Chancellor Erhard’s Christian Democratic party.

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