BONN (Dec. 19)
On the eve of the departure today of Chancellor Erhard for Washington to confer with President Johnson on matters concerning West Germany, Dr. Rolf Dahlgruen, Minister of Finance, issued a declaration here stating that “some misconceptions have arisen recently on the implementation of Germany’s restitution program.” The declaration was a reply to criticisms by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and by other Jewish organizations around the world, against the decision of the West German Government to postpone 1966 and 1967 reparations payments due to victims of Nazism who could not file their claims prior to 1953 because they had still been unable to leave East European countries.
The Claims Conference has threatened to challenge the constitutionality of the budget bill, if enacted, on the grounds that it would jeopardize rights of property or acquired property, contrary to the provisions of the West German Constitution. The declaration of the West German Finance Minister reads:
“The Federal Government has often demonstrated the special priority it gives to restitution for injustices committed under National Socialism. The payment of the $250,000,000 increase voted by the Bundestag on May 26, 1965, however, will have to be effected within the framework of our budgetary problems. Nevertheless, I can say with assurance that the largest possible amount of this increase will be paid out in 1966 and 1967.
“It is our intention that the special conditions of recipients will be given full consideration. Since a statutory order is necessary for this purpose, we shall draft it with the consultation of the competent associations of persecutees. I would also stress that all claims to pensions, irrespective of whether they have been fixed in the past, or whether they will be fixed in 1966 or 1967, will be satisfied to the full in the future.
“The same applies to expenses incurred for medical treatment. It is being asserted that intolerable hardships are involved due to the fact that the educational grants, which have been increased by the final amending law from 5,000 to 10,000 Marks without requiring proof of lasting injury, are included in the postponement of payments. Such assertions ignore the fact that the persecutees affected thereby have already received the 5,000 Marks, and will also receive an appropriate share of the second 5,000 Marks without any postponement. As regards misgivings under constitutional law concerning Article 17, we have had this question investigated thoroughly by the ministries competent to deal with constitutional matters, and it has been definitely established that Article 17 does not contravene the Basic Law.
SEEKS TO JUSTIFY DEFERMENT OF PAYMENTS; REFERS TO ALLIES
“The Allies, the international Jewish organizations and all the other associations of persecutees expressly conceded to the Federal Republic in 1952 the right to take into consideration the solvency of the Federal Republic in making available the budgetary means required. This concession was given in view of anticipated financial requirements of 3,000,000,000 to 4,000,000,000 Marks ($750,000,000 to $1,000,000,000) to cover the entire federal indemnification law. Therefore, I do not understand why we should not be conceded the same right today, when we are faced with a gap of more than 7 billions in 1966. We have, in the meantime, met the costs of the federal indemnification and restitution law with an outlay of 19 billion Marks ($4,750,000,000) and will probably pay another 15 billion Marks ($3,750,000,000) up to 1975.
“We anticipate that an expenditure of about 1,800,000,000 will be necessary in 1965, as was the case in 1964. If we appropriate 1,900,000,000 for 1966 and 1967, as has been done in the Budget Stabilization Law, we do not effect reductions vis-a-vis the actual figures of the two previous years as is being constantly asserted, but in reality increase the sums being paid out by 100 million Marks ($25,000,000).
“During discussions of the final law concerning the Federal Indemnification Law, I was told by the associations of persecutees that the annual burden imposed on the Federal Government and the States was not to be increased by the amending law but should merely be maintained at the same level for further years to come. This is just what has been achieved by Article 17 of the Budget Stabilization Law. It provides that we shall distribute about 7,500,000,000 Marks ($1,875,000,000) to be anticipated for 1966 to 1969 evenly over four years, and thus keep midway between the estimated and actual sums.
“If we take appropriate account of minor claims or very old people in our implementing regulations, we shall come to a reasonable arrangement with the associations, which will do no harm to anyone, but will on the contrary take into consideration the overall situation. For there is one thing I must say again here: The preservation of the stability and purchasing power of our currency is of importance not only to us, but also to the persecutees, who must be interested in this just as much.”