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Kreisky Says Austria Will End Reparations Payments to Former Victims of Nazi Persecution

Claiming that Austria “was not responsible for crimes against Jews during the Nazi regime in Austria,” Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky has rejected any further reparations payments to Austrian Jewish victims of the Nazis. In a five-page letter, signed personally by Kreisky, sent to the chairman of the World Federation of Victims of Nazi Persecution. Tuvia Friedman in Haifa, Kreisky explained why Austria will pay no more and underlined that this reply is considered final and official.

Kreisky, who was approached on this matter during his recent visit to Israel at the head of the Socialist International’s fact-finding group, explained in his letter that Austria was an occupied state and the persecution of Jews was carried out exclusively on the strength of German laws. Thus. Kreisky noted. Austria was not responsible for what was done and therefore bears no responsibility for reparations.

Kreisky stated that out of a feeling of moral duty the Austrian government had paid some reparations to the Austrian victims of Nazism, totalling about IL 1,100 million of which 90 percent had gone to the racially persecuted (the Jews). He concluded that there is, therefore, unfortunately, no possibility of reopening this matter. “Whatever we have done so far was the maximum possible.” Kreisky stated in his letter.

Dr. S. Schoenblum, president of the World Union of Former Austrians for the Defense of Their Rights, said today his organization would now exert pressure on the Knesset to force Foreign Minister Abba Eban to reopen the issue.

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