VIENNA (Sep. 4)
The transit camp for Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union was transferred to a Vienna suburb last weekend, an Austrian Interior Ministry official said today. Without previous announcement Soviet Jews are now brought to a former children’s home at Simmering, a Vienna suburb near Schwechat Airport, where they wait for transportation to Israel.
Until last week, the emigrants spent their first hours in the free world in a former army barracks at Wollersdorf, some 40 kilometers south of Vienna. Both the new transit camp at Simmering and the Wollersdorf camp are run under the supervision of the Austrian Red Cross which is responsible for the emigrants since Chancellor Bruno Kreisky ruled last year that the Jewish Agency camp at Schoenau must be closed.
Kreisky had agreed to the closing of the Schoenau camp last fall to free a group of Jewish emigrants held as hostages by Arab terrorists. He said the risk was too big for Austria to permit the Jewish Agency to run Schoenau camp. World-wide protests followed. Then the Austrian government installed the Wollersdorf transit camp. But Kreisky said the site of the camp would be changed from time to time to avoid unnecessary security risks.
Interior Minister Otto Roesch admitted today he received protests of people living near the new camp because they feared Arab terrorist actions. “Such a risk hardly exists.” Roesch said. “We have to fulfill a humanitarian task. Everybody must understand that it is our duty to help other people.”
Some critics said it was a risk to establish the transit camp in a densely populated city area. The right-wing Freedom Party is planning protest actions demanding the camp be transferred to another area. Without giving exact figures, government officials said Wollersdorf camp had hosted several thousand Soviet Jews in the eight months of its existence.