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Report Growing Sentiment in Bonn to Extend Statute of Limitations

January 30, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

West Germany Acting Consul General in New York, Kurt-Arthur Schwartze, conferred with two American Jewish delegations on the issue of the statute of limitations on the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, due to expire at the end of this year. The German official indicated that there is growing sentiment in Bonn for on extension of the statute and said the present consensus is that the West German parliament would not grant war criminals immunity from prosecution after the Dec. 31, 1979 deadline.

Schwartze met last Thursday with a delegation from the American Section of the World Jewish Congress, led by its chairman, Jacob Katzman, and on Friday with representatives at the 26 major organizations in the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

The latter group, headed by JCRC president Richard Ravitch and executive director Malcolm Hoenlein, submitted a letter for transmission to the West German government which said that to allow any of those responsible for Nazi depredations to escape justice would be “an unforgivable affront to the memories of their 11 million victims, a betrayal of democratic principles espoused by the West German government and a crushing defeat for the conscience of mankind.” Similar views were expressed by the WJC delegation.

Responding, Schwartze agreed that if the statute of limitations–the period of time during which war criminals are subject to prosecution–expired, it would mean closing the final chapter on the subject of Nazi murderers. He also observed that opposition to abolition of the statute was not confined to Jews but came from members of all faiths.


According to Schwartze, party discipline will be waived and members of Parliament will be free to vote on the issue according to their conscience. He quoted the Vice President of the Bundestag (lower house) as saying the extension has “a good chance of coming through.” Schwartze also observed that the recent screening of the “Holocaust” dramatization on West German television to record audiences was likely to have a positive impact on the vote.

(In Bonn, the International Auschwitz Committee an organization of survivors of the notorious death camp, added its voice to the growing demands to reject any deadline for the prosecution of war criminals. The committee urged the government to sign a 1968 United Nations convention mandating that war crimes and “crimes against humanity” be excluded from the statute of limitations.)

Meanwhile, meetings and rallies are being planned for tomorrow in major cities across the United States, West Europe and Israel to demand that there be no time limit on the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in West Germany and to recall that exactly 46 years ago Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, a move that set the scene for the Holocaust.

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