BONN (Jul. 13)
The chances are good for a speedy agreement with East Germany to make available reparations for Jewish persecutees of the Nazi era, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman said Tuesday.
Bronfman spoke in West Berlin after meeting with Heinz Galinski, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in West Germany. He described as “historic” what he said was an East German decision to pay reparations.
Bronfman is expected to meet with East German Communist Party boss Erich Honecker later this month to discuss the issue.
The Communist regime until now has consistently rejected reparations payments to Jews on the grounds that it bears no responsibility for what happened to them during the Nazi era. The East Germans describe themselves as early “antifascists” who allegedly resisted the Nazi regime.
Most observers believe the East Germans’ sudden willingness to consider reparations stems from a desire to win Jewish good will, especially in the United States. They seem to think American Jews exert enough influence in Washington to gain for their country the coveted most-favored-nation trade status.
Bronfman’s discussions with Galinski also reportedly touched on the scandal of the late Werner Nachmann, who, as chairman of the Central Council until his death last January, allegedly embezzled millions of dollars provided by the Bonn government for reparations to former Jewish persecutees.
Bronfman and WJC Secretary-General Israel Singer visited the Ploetzensee memorial site in West Berlin.
They were scheduled to meet with Richard von Weizsacker, president of the Federal Republic, and with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn on Thursday.