WASHINGTON (May. 15)
United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and West German Defense Minister Kai-Uwe von Hassel announced yesterday agreement on a controversial deal in which the United States will purchase 20 MM. cannons from the Rheinmetall Arms Works, despite B’nai B’rith protests that the German firm refused to compensate Jewish slave laborers who were concentration camp inmates forced to work for Rheinmetall. A number of the present directors of the firm were directors during the Hitler era, and members of the Nazi Party.
Defense Department officials said the U.S. Army will spend $74, 200, 000 for the guns, spare parts, technical data, and royalties. The gun is the Hispano-Suiza 820, and will be mounted on armored command and reconnaissance vehicles. The agreement emerged from a lengthy discussion of a wide range of NATO and American-West German defense cooperation questions.
U.S. Army officials said that despite B’nai B’rith protests and charges by American arms manufacturers that similar weapons were available domestically, the Army has decided that no similar weapon is available in the United States.