Efforts are under way to resolve a 3-year-old stalemate that has kept the Austrian government from paying a $210 million Holocaust-era property claims settlement and to provide the Austrian Jewish community with the money it needs to continue operating.
Israel Singer, president of the Conference on Jewish and Material Claims Against Germany, said he has proposed funding the Jewish community using unallocated money from a $400 million fund created to pay surviving slave laborers. The deadline for filing slave labor claims expires Dec. 31 and about $150 million remains.
After weeks of refusing to negotiate Holocaust claims with an Austrian government that includes the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, a Jewish leader has proposed a solution: negotiate with the Austrian National Fund, a body established by Austria's parliament to pay compensation to as many as 30,000 victims of Nazi persecution.
Even as a worldwide search was launched to locate and pay insurance policies of Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs, a major Israeli group rejected offers by the new rightist Austrian government to resolve its outstanding Holocaust-era claims.
"It is imperative that we not fall into Haider's trap and let him use the back of the Jewish people to gain recognition and legitimacy from the world," Salai Meridor, chairman of The Jewish Agency, told The Jewish Week.
Henreich Heine, the German-Jewish poet, wrote more than a century ago, ìder vorhang fallt, das stuck ist aus,î the curtain falls, the play is done. Then, in that tragic coda, the ax fell, too. Yet the drama goes on, a few German-Jews puttering around on a stage they refuse to leave, enchanted by that language.ìWir haben viel fur einander gefuhlt,î how deeply we were wrapped in each otherís lives, wrote Heine.