Thyssen Conglomerate Trying to Circumvent German Restrictions on Arms Export to Specific Arab Nation

B’nai B’rith Canada is protesting to West Germany through its diplomatic officials here against plans by the giant Thyssen conglomerate to establish an armaments plant at Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia, which would export weapons to Persian Gulf and other Arab countries hostile to Israel.

Thyssen is seeking a five-year export license from the Canadian government. According to B’nai B’rith Canada, its purpose is to circumvent West German restrictions on the export of weapons manufactured on German soil to regions of tension. Thyssen is trying to avoid this “sound moral principle,” a B’nai B’rith delegation stated in a memorandum presented to the West German Consul General, Dr. Egon Raster, here Monday morning, for conveyance to the Bonn government.

The memorandum noted that Thyssen plans to ship tanks, armored vehicles and other weapons from the proposed Cape Bretton plant to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Algeria. “We need more employment in Canada and in Cape Bretton but the production of armaments to feed the fires of conflict elsewhere is an unacceptable cost,” the B’nai B’rith memorandum said.

It called on the West German government to persuade Thyssen to withdraw its plans for the Cape Bretton arms plant and not to relocate it elsewhere. The delegation was headed by Marylin Wainberg, national chairperson of B’nai B’rith Canada’s international affairs department; Stephen Scheinberg, a professor of history at Concordia University; and Abe Monk of the Israel Affairs Committee of B’nai B’rith Canada.

The memorandum noted in addition that “for the Jewish people the name Thyssen evokes harsh memories of the Second World War and the slave labor system that company employed. Their lack of sensitivity in both the past and present fills us with sadness, anger and the determination to stop them.”

Another B’nai B’rith Canada delegation met on the issue with the West German Charge d’ Affaires in Ottawa, Wolfgang Behren. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has put Thyssen’s export license request on its agenda but no date has been set for a discussion of the matter.

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