U.S. Government Displeased with Austria’s New Pro-nazi Laws
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U.S. Government Displeased with Austria’s New Pro-nazi Laws

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The State Department has expressed its displeasure to the Austrian Ambassador here over the passage by the Austrian Parliament of laws restoring property and civil rights to more than 20,000 former leading Nazis, it was learned today. The Department made known its views to the Austrian diplomat when he was called to the State Department last Friday.

The United States High Commissioner for Austria, Walter J. Donnelly, is expected to arrive here early next week to report to the State Department on the effect of the laws. As a member of the Allied Council, Commissioner Donnelly could recommend the veto of these laws by the United States. Although Mr. Donnelly is assuming a new post as High Commissioner for Germany, it is expected here that whatever recommendations he makes with regard to the new Austrian laws will be put into effect. A continuity of policy is predicted on official levels.

It was learned here that the American Government was displeased both by the nature of the laws and by the manner in which they were pushed through just prior to the adjournment of the Austrian Parliament.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson today received a telegram from the American Jewish Congress asking the U.S. Government to refuse its consent to the laws enacted by the Austrian Parliament. The telegram, signed by Dr. Israel Goldstein, president, pointed out that the American Government "cannot acquiesce in these disheartening denials of justice." A protest from the American Jewish Congress was also received by the Austrian Embassy here.


Frank Goldman, B’nai B’rith president, also sent a telegram to Secretary Acheson urging the U.S. Government "to use its good offices within the Allied Council" against the implementation of the measures passed by the Austrian Parliament. "Passage of these acts jeopardizes the rights of the victims of Nazi persecution and constitutes an open political appeal by the Austrian Government for the support of the elements in Austrian society which co-operated with the Hitler regime," Mr. Goldman said in his plea.

It was pointed out here that High Commissioner Donnelly, in a statement in Vienna last May, explaining the Allied Council’s refusal to approve a law passed at that time by the Austrian Parliament exempting repatriated Austrian war criminals from legal penalties imposed on Nazis, emphasized that he was disappointed to find legislation for the relief of ex-Nazis preceding that for their victims. He then emphasized that the United States expects the Austrian Government to make "greater amends" to Nazi victims in Austria.

A memorandum by the American Jewish Committee made public here today suggests that the "greater amends" which High Commissioner keeps urging upon the Vienna Government as a matter of United States policy and as an obligation "in simple justice," should include the following:

1. The cessation of attempts to destroy restitution by any amendment of the correct Third Restitution Law, in favor of the restitutors at the expense of the legal owners.

2. The abandonment of the plan of a "Hardship Settlement Fund" financed by discriminatory confiscation and taxation of Jewish assets, instead of general taxation.

3. The assignment of Jewish heirless and unclaimed assets for the relief and rehabilitation of Jewish victims of Nazism. In order to facilitate the solution of this problem, the Jewish organizations have stated to Chancellor Fig1 their preparedness to agree to a reasonable lump-sum settlement to be paid to the benefit of Jewish persecutees, leaving the disposal of the complex of heirless assets to the discretion of the government.

4. Adoption of an indemnification law which would compensate all victims of Nazism for damage to life and limb, deprivation of liberty and forced labor, for lost pensions and other non-property damages, without discrimination as to race or creed, on the model of the indemnification laws of Western Germany.

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