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Jews Present Protest to Austrian Chancellor on Claims Deadlock

December 21, 1953
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A five-page letter outlining the stand of the world Jewish organizations toward the Austrian Government’s breaking off negotiations for payment of compensation for heirless property of Jewish families annihilated by the Nazis in Austria, was presented to Chancellor Dr. Julius Raab this week-end by Fred Feder, director of the Joint Distribution Committee in Austria.

The letter, which was signed by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Joint Executive Board for Jewish Claims on Austria, practically accuses the Austrian Government of breaking its promises and demands that a settlement of Jewish claims should precede the enactment of measures benefitting former Nazis. The letter declares that the Austrian Government’s announcement that it was impossible to make a lump sum settlement of heirless Jewish property claims came as a “surprise” and caused “consternation.”

The Austrian interpretation that settlement depends on a case-by-case study to be made six months after ratification of an Austrian state treaty is not shared by other governments, Dr. Goldmann’s letter states. It points out that the Allied Council in Austria, informed of the progress of the Austro-Jewish talks, had posed no objections. Dr. Goldmann also notes that the Austrian treaty is not yet completed and may never be completed.

The Jewish groups, the letter concludes, have reduced the claims against Austria to the “limit of our conscience.” But, it says, the Jews are still prepared to discuss methods of liquidating any agreed amount in a manner which would impose little burden on the Austrian economy. Dr. Goldmann writes of the Jewish groups’ willingness to reopen discussions on both a legislative program for surviving persecutees and on settlement of the heirless property problem.

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