Bundesrat Refuses to Vote Compensation for Post-1953 Jewish Claimants

The prospect of new delays in providing compensation to victims of Nazism unable to file claims before a 1953 deadline in West German indemnification laws developed this weekend from a refusal of the Bundesrat, the Upper House of the West German Parliament, to approve a measure for that purpose previously passed by the Bundesrat, the Lower House.

The measure would expand a special hardship fund for such claimants from 700,000,000 marks ($175,000,000) to 1,200,000,000 marks ($300,000,000). The measure, an amendment to indemnification legislation, would also extend to 1970 the time for the post-1953 claimants to file.

The Bundesrat, which includes representation of the II West German states, asked for intervention by the Parliamentary Mediation Committee, which is the special body empowered to mediate cases in which the two houses are in disagreement on a measure. The Bundesrat vote was by a large majority.

The rejection was based on the argument that the measure would require the federal government and the states to share the costs on a fifty-fifty basis. The states contended that the decision to increase the sum by 500,000,000 marks was a matter of foreign policy and that the federal government alone should bear the increased costs. The appeal to the mediation committee posed the threat of fresh delays in the coming into effect of West German’s final indemnification legislations.

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