German Jewish Communities to Merge to Help Facilitate Reparations Talks

The Jewish communities of West and East Germany are planning to merge shortly in order to facilitate negotiations for reparations and the restoration of Jewish property, and to become a united community when the two Germanys become a single nation.

The East German community adopted a plan this week to establish two regional organizations, which will join the West German community as of Sept. 15, 1990.

The East German community’s membership is put at 400, some 200 of whom live in East Berlin. About 30,000 Jews live in West Germany, 6,000 of them in West Berlin.

Heinz Galinski, chairman of the West German Jewish community, will be the spokesman for both organizations in the interim period until their merger is final.

The leadership bodies of East and West German Jews met for talks in Berlin as soon it became apparent that German unification was inevitable.

Siegmund Rotstein, the East German community chairman, and Peter Kirchner, chairman of the East Berlin community, made clear that they favored merger, though they left open the timing of the move.

Well-informed sources said both communities negotiations with the East German government for reparations were slowed down because it was unclear which was competent in that matter.

East Germany appears willing to return Jewish real estate in East Berlin and elsewhere that was seized by the Nazis or later by the Communist regime.

The returned property is expected to be utilized and managed by the emerging united Jewish community of a single Germany.

Observers in Bonn say the eastern and western communities have a joint interest in presenting themselves as the only heirs to the former Jewish communities in the country.

There are other groups which might lay claim to Jewish properties.

One such is the Association of Friends of Adass Israel, a former Orthodox congregation in Berlin.

The association has been campaigning for the past year for recognition and financial support from the authorities in East and West Berlin.

Its activists claim there are many buildings in both sections of Berlin, but mainly in the East, which belonged to Adass Israel and should be returned to their legal heirs.

The association considers itself the congregation’s sole survivor.

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