Sunday, February 14, 2016

Austrian Justice is problematic: Jewish author remains in Austrian jail despite discovery of key papers

A Jewish historian and outspoken critic of Austria’s approach to returning property looted by the Nazis is being kept in jail for defrauding the state over a restitution claim, despite the discovery of crucial new evidence.

Stephan Templ, 55, was convicted of serious fraud for hiding the existence of an estranged aunt when he applied on behalf of his mother for the return of a building in Vienna which was seized from his family in 1938.

But papers found in the state-run offices set up to facilitate the return of properties to heirs and descendants show that authorities were made aware of the existence of Elisabeth Kretschmar in 2003.

Representatives of the organisation had testified during Templ’s trial that they had no knowledge of his aunt. The judge said Templ had deliberately withheld the information about her, and in so doing had “damaged the Republic of Austria” because the aunt’s potential one-twelfth share of the building had gone to Templ’s mother, rather than to the state.

At the trial there was no discussion about why the onus was on families dispossessed of their property by the Nazis to prove their right to reclaim it by detailing their own genealogy.
Templ was sentenced to three years in prison, which was reduced on appeal to one year. He has been held in Vienna’s Simmering jail since 15 October.[...]

His 2001 book Unser Wien (Our Vienna) sparked an international furore. It catalogued hundreds of prominent properties seized by the Nazis that were never returned, including major Viennese landmarks – from the city’s famous ferris wheel to luxury hotels and tailors, as well as the building at the centre of his own claim, the Fürth sanatorium. [...]

1 comment :

  1. Why is this courageous Jewish author not being supported by the community in Vienna? Why is this outlandish case scarcely being mentioned in the local media? Looks extremely fishy.


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