BONN (Jan. 9)
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the prime ministers of the 16 German states agreed here Wednesday that the states would share the burden of receiving and absorbing Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, who are arriving at the rate of 100 to 200 a day.
The federal government in Bonn will settle the legal status of Soviet Jews already in the country, and no quotas will be imposed on the future influx.
A government spokesman said the decision was unanimous but did not specify how the absorption burden would be shared between the states and the federal authorities.
Other sources said that, for all practical purposes, the absorption of immigrants is a matter for the states. The federal government’s contribution will be mainly to help the immigrants get entry documents and to settle their legal status once they arrive.
The decision was a significant concession to the German Jewish community, which has been lobbying vigorously for free entry for Soviet Jews. The community hopes to strengthen its ranks with the new arrivals and reopen old Jewish centers in what until recently was East Germany.
Virtually all Soviet emigres arrive in what had been East Berlin. An office was established there last year by the East German government to offer the immigrants legal advice and direct them to agencies providing food and temporary housing.
Since unification however, the municipality of Berlin, which is also a state itself, has complained that it lacks the resources to keep pace with the influx.
It is demanding an equitable arrangement that would require other states to share the absorption burden, based on their wealth, income, population and available housing.
Foreign Ministry sources said some 15,000 Soviet Jews have applied for entry visas at German consulates in Moscow and Leningrad. Most have been coming as tourists and simply overstaying the six-week period allowed holders of Soviet passports. No Jew who has settled in Germany has been expelled.