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U.S. Pushing East Germany to Pay Claims to Victims of Nazism

April 4, 1974
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United States, in seeking “a firm and detailed advance commitment to negotiate a claims agreement” from the German Democratic Republic “soon” after establishing diplomatic relations, is pursuing procedures similar to that adopted by France and the United Kingdom with the East Germans on behalf of the victims of Nazism. Those two countries established formal relations with East Germany in Feb. 1973 with provisos to negotiate claims arising from the Nazi regime’s depredations. The British have “started to move towards negotiations” but the French have not.

In obtaining this information from Western diplomatic sources, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned at the State Department that the U.S. has two steps to take prior to entering talks on claims with East Germany, The first is to set up an Embassy and housing for its staff in East Berlin. An American team was in that part of the old German capital during the past week for that purpose but no arrangements were concluded. Only after that has been arranged will formal relations with the GDR be negotiated At present “only a small part” of the first step has been accomplished.

The claims themselves will be a long drawn out process that will not even begin until after the negotiations for an agreement about them is established. When the JTA reporter suggested that all claimants would no longer be living, when this step is finally taken, an American authority indicated the waiting period would not be that long but he could give no time-table.

While the West German governments have paid DM 43.2 billion for indemnification and restitution payments as of the end of 1971 and will pay an estimated DM 9.2 billion more by the end of 1975, the East German government has made no payments nor any promise of payment. The GDR position is that it will not pay “reparations” for the Nazis. However, at the State Department, the JTA was told that “there is a difference between reparations and claims.” indicating that East Germany ultimately will pay claims.

Both the British and French governments have established embassies in East Berlin and have ambassadors to East Germany. The West Germans are expected to have a “representative” there soon but no ambassador because of their “special relationship” with the East Germans. Having embassies in East Berlin, the JTA was told, does not mean any change in the quad partite status of Berlin as a whole.

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