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Johnson Asked to Intervene Witherhard on Payments to Nazi Victims

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The American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service asked President Johnson today to discuss with Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, the West German Government’s decision to defer payments to Nazi victims.

In a wire sent by the Committee on Migration and Refugee Problems, President Johnson’s interest in the matter was “respectfully requested in order to avoid serious hardship for thousands of eligible deserving persons of all faiths.” The committee is composed of Catholic, Protestant, non-sectarian and Jewish relief and resettlement agencies, including the Joint Distribution Committee and the United Hias Service.

West German Ambassador Heinrich Knappstein said today he had received a petition from the Jewish Nazi Victims Organization of America, asking Chancellor Erhard not to sign the new Bundestag law curtailing payments to victims and that he transmitted the petition to the Chancellor.

The petition was given to the Ambassador by the group’s president, Moses I. Socachevsky, and its secretary, Felix Lasky. The petition said West Germany’s obligation to honor commitments for indemnification of Jews who escaped Iron Curtain countries after October 1, 1953, was an “obligation of honor” and should be fulfilled. It expressed Jewish concern lest the new restrictions are imposed and victims of the Nazis suffer further hardship through denial of the promised indemnification.

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