Foreign Ministers Council Will Decide on Jewish Rights in Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria
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Foreign Ministers Council Will Decide on Jewish Rights in Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria

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The “Big Four” Council of Foreign Ministers, which began meeting today at the Waldorf Towers here to resolve some of the issues on which no agreement was reached at the Paris Peace Conference, will decide the fate, of peace treaty amendments concerning the protection of Jewish rights in Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania, the restitution of property to Jews in Hungary and Rumania, and the transfer of heirless property in these two countries to the International Refugee Organization for purposes of relief and rehabilitation.

Jewish organizations which sent delegations to Paris in connection with the Peace Conference and which sponsored the above-mentioned amendments, today expressed the hope that the Big Four Council will reach an agreement on these suggestions which were incorporated into the peace treaties against the vote of the Russian bloc. The Russians, on the other hand, today stated that they would not regard themselves bound by any conference recommendations with which they disagreed, indicating they may use their veto power.

While the Four Powers all agreed at the Paris Conference to include an article in the peace treaties obligating Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania to take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under their jurisdiction – without distinction as to race or religion – the enjoyment of human rights and of fundamental freedoms, there was no unanimity on an amendment suggested by the British that Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary further undertake that the laws in force in these three former Axis countries “shall not, either in their contents or application, discriminate or entail any discrimination between different classes, sections or categories of persons, irrespective of race, sex, language or religion, whether with reference to their person, property, business or financial interests, state, political or civil rights or any other matter.”

The Peace Conference included this amendment in the Rumanian treaty by 14 to 7, the Russian bloc and Norway voting against; and by 14 to 6 in the Hungarian treaty, with the same countries voting against and the Czechs abstaining.


Approximately the same results were achieved in voting on a British-suggested amendment urging that the treaties with Rumania and Hungary contain a provision under which these countries undertake that in all cases where the property, legal rights or interests of persons under their jurisdiction have, since Sept, 1, 1939, been the subject of measures of sequestration, confiscation or control “on account of racial origin or religion of such person,” the said property, legal rights and interests shall be restored with their accessories, or, if restoration is impossible, full compensation shall be made therefore.

This amendment was included in the Rumanian treaty by 14 to 7, the Russian bloc and Norway voting against; and in the Hungarian treaty 15 to 4, with the Poles and Czechoslovaks abstaining.

An amendment suggested by the American delegation that the Hungarian and Ruma- nian governments undertake within twelve months after the date of the coming into force of the treaty to transfer to the International Refugee Organization, for purposes of relief and rehabilitation, all the property of individuals and groups who were exterminated during the Nazi regime and left no heirs, was also adopted by the Conference by a vote of 14 to 5, the Russian bloc voting against it and the French and Czechs abstaining.


At the joint suggestion of the Big Four, the Paris Conference unanimously accepted a recommendation that “for a period not to exceed eighteen months from the coming into force of the treaty” the heads of the diplomatic missions of the USSR, United Kingdom and the United States in the countries for whom the treaties are intended are to give the governments of these countries “such guidance, technical advice and clarification as may be necessary to ensure rapid and efficient compliance with the spirit and the terms of the treaty.”

While agreed on this suggestion, which was incorporated into the peace treaties without much discussion, there is a difference of opinion between the USSR on one side and the British and American governments on the other, with regard to the interpretation of the recommendation.

The Soviet stand is that disputes concerning the interpretation or execution of any of the peace treaties “shall be settled by direct diplomatic negotiations.” In case the disputes are not settled in this way, they shall be referred to the three heads of the Allied mission in each country concerned. The American and British joint proposal, however, urges that disputes concerning the interpretation or execution of the treaty shall be referred to the three heads of the mission, and “if not resolved by them within a period of two months, shall, at the request of any party to any dispute, be referred to the International Court of Justice.”

This disagreement will be one of the major subjects of discussion by the Foreign Ministers, who are empowered to reach a final decision.

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