NEW YORK (Nov. 25)
The West German Government was criticized severely here last night by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, for seeking to postpone payment of $50,000,000 to Nazi victims “for a year or two.”
The victims involved are mostly Jews who could not file their claims for compensation with the German authorities before October 1953 because they lived in the Soviet Union and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. The West German Parliament decided several months ago to grant them compensation and to make the first payment of $50,000,000 in 1966. The West German Finance Minister Rolf Dahlgruen now claims that the payment cannot be made because of “budgetary difficulties.”
“This is an immoral attempt with regard to the obligations of the West German Government to the Nazi victims,” Dr. Goldmann said. He pointed out that the affected Nazi victims have already been waiting 20 years for compensation. Postponement of payment, he pointed out, could have serious implications for older claimants who might not live to see any compensation. He also criticized the Bonn Government for evading to enter negotiations with Israel about German economic aid to the Jewish state.
Dr. Goldmann voiced his criticism in an address he delivered at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel marking the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the Jews from the Nazi concentration camp in Bergen Belsen. More than 1,000 persons attended the dinner at which Brig. General H.L. Glyn Hughes, known as “the liberator of Bergen Belsen” because of the major role he played in bringing freedom to the camp inmates, was honored.
Dr. Goldmann said that coming generations of Jews must always remember the Nazi holocaust and that “the Germans must always be reminded” about it. General Hughes appealed to the world “never to forget” the crimes of the Nazi regime. The Nazi concentration and annihilation camps were “the worst horror story of the war,” he said.
The dinner was arranged by the World Federation of the Bergen Belsen Associations and was presided over by Josef Rosensaft, president of the Federation. Among the principal speakers was Dr. Jacob Robinson, noted expert on international law and coordinator of research in the Jewish Catastrophe of Specialized Historical Institutes. Israel Consul General Michael Arnon brought greetings from the Israel Government.
SEES MOSCOW SENSITIVE TO THE SITUATION OF THE SOVIET JEWS
Earlier in the day, addressing a meeting of the North American executive committee of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Goldmann said that the Soviet Government has become more aware of, and sensitive to, the situation of Soviet Jewry. While the situation had not fundamentally changed, he declared, there seemed to be certain indications of positive developments such as permission to allow between 20 to 25 students to attend the Moscow Yeshiva; the fact that the Jewish theater in Vilna will become a state theater and that there will also be a Jewish theater in Moscow.
Presiding over the meeting, Samuel Bronfman, the World Jewish Congress vice-president, stated that the organization is now playing the key role in tracing Jewish witnesses all over the world required to testify in trials of Nazi criminals before West German courts. Mr. Bronfman said that the WJC New York offices, acting as a global tracing agency, are currently involved in the location of Jewish witnesses for more than 250 investigations conducted in preparation of trials, which will take place in the Federal Republic during the next few years, while many new investigations will start in the immediate future.