NEW YORK (Nov. 23)
Presidents of 18 major Jewish organizations in the United States Joined today in a sharp protest to the German Government over the Bonn Government’s decision not to extend the statute of limitations for prosecution of major war criminals, and against Bonn’s failure to withdraw German scientists at work in Egypt on weapons of mass destruction to be aimed ultimately at Israel.
The protest was sent to Dr. Gerhard Schroeder, the German Foreign Minister, who arrived in Washington today for official talks with leaders of the United States Administration. A special meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, this weekend, under the chairmanship of Label A. Katz, adopted the joint statement.
We are appalled, “the statement declared,” by the recent announcement of West Germany’s refusal to extend the present statute of limitations for war crimes prosecution.” The statement pointed out that other governments, including Belgium, East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union, “have acted to abolish such bars to prosecution within their own Jurisdiction.” “Obviously,” the Jewish organizations continued, the failure to extend the statute of limitations “can have as its only effect the immunization from prosecution of war criminals whose identity will be disclosed in the future.”
“Similarly,” the statement declared, “we cannot understand the inability of the Bundestag (lower house of West Germany’s Parliament) to prevent continued participation of German scientists and other technicians in developing sophisticated armaments for the United Arab Republic in Cairo. Apparently, the West German Government is unwilling publicly to acknowledge the possibility that Egypt is planning a war of aggression against Israel. Instead, West Germany would rather continue to risk Israel’s security than alienate Arab business firms.”
Concluding the joint statement, the organization informed the German Foreign Minister: “We believe the German people owe a special, and as yet unredeemed, obligation both to history and to those who survived the Nazi holocaust. For all of its industrial might and political influence, West Germany cannot lay claim to a genuine rebirth in the postwar period until it has demonstrated its clear understanding of this obligation and its readiness to discharge it. The evident reluctance of German spokesmen to act in these areas of Jewish concern do not enhance our confidence in the sincerity or genuineness of current effort toward this end.”