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Austrian Envoy Rejects Charges That Country is Still Pro-nazi

January 23, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Ernst Lemberger, Austrian Ambassador to the United States, rejected today a charge by the American Jewish Congress that Austria willingly embraced Hitlerism and that Nazi sentiment remains strong in his country. Dr. Lemberger called the charges “one-sided and distorted” and cited, in his reply, a statement by Chancellor Josef Klaus, criticizing “generalizing insinuations” and asking that Austria be judged by the behavior of all 7,000,000 Austrians “and not by the behavior of a few.”

The Austrian envoy made his rebuttal in response to a study of anti-Semitic and rightist tendencies in Austria made last fall by the American Jewish Congress. The study accused Austria’s political parties and national leaders of failure to admit Austria’s Nazi past, to atone for anti-Semitic excesses, and to create a new national mood invulnerable to Nazi teachings. The study charged that, 21 years after the end of World War II, “Austrians have yet to demonstrate they understand their country’s true role as a partner of Hitlerism.”

Dr. Lemberger retorted that the Austrian share of responsibility for “the horrible crimes” against humanity in the Nazi era “has to be confined to those individual Austrians who unfortunately participated in these atrocities, and it should not be overlooked that such criminals collaborating with the Nazis existed in practically every European country under German occupation.” He replied to a charge that Austria’s restitution program was “lagging” with an assertion that “there cannot be any basis for legal claims against the Republic of Austria for damages and crimes committed by individual Austrians under Nazi rule.”

Dr. Joachim Prinz, chairman of the AJC Commission on International Affairs, said today that Dr. Lemberger had continued “to minimize and isolate each criminal act” and to attribute such acts to “aberrent and atypical individuals.” Dr. Prinz said this tended to confirm what the AJC report called “the conventional Austrian response to the question of anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.” He added that Dr. Lemberger’s position appeared to be that “the present Austrian nation as a whole has no special connection with or responsibility for these acts.”

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