BONN (Aug. 25)
While Germany’s Interior Ministry has promised to speed up the processing of visa applications from Soviet Jews seeking admission to Germany, no new commitments have been made with respect to numbers, ministry sources said over the weekend.
A request to allow more Jews to enter the country was made by Jewish community officials at an emergency meeting with Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaueble last week.
The meeting took place shortly after the Aug. 19 military coup by Communist hard-liners threatened a return to authoritarian rule in the Soviet Union. But the urgency of the situation diminished when the coup collapsed two days later.
The German Jewish community, nevertheless, is anxious to see the Jewish population grow. It numbers about 40,000 at present, a far cry from the 600,000 German Jews before World War II, of whom 100,000 lived in Berlin.
Several German intellectuals have campaigned for free Jewish immigration. They said it would benefit not only the Jewish community, but German society as a whole.
Israeli officials here are opposed. They insist that Israel must be the destination of Jews who leave the Soviet Union.
German policy now is to admit Soviet Jews who have relatives in Germany or who can prove family origins in Germany. They must apply for visas at German consulates in the Soviet Union.