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September 24, 2015 9:34 pm

75 Holocaust Scholars Demand Austria Cancel Jewish Historian’s Prison Sentence

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Email a copy of "75 Holocaust Scholars Demand Austria Cancel Jewish Historian’s Prison Sentence" to a friend
The Queen Maria Theresia Monument in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Queen Maria Theresia Monument in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Some 75 Holocaust scholars warned the Austrian ambassador in Washington that his country’s sentencing of a prominent historian and journalist who exposed Austria’s failure to return pre-Holocaust property risked looking like an “extreme overreaction.”

In a letter to Austrian Ambassador Hans Peter Manz organized by the David S. Wyman Instiute , whose committee includes Elie Wiesel, these scholars from around the globe called on President Heinz Fischer to reconsider rejections of Stephan Templ’s appeals, which were exhausted after Vienna’s highest court upheld that Templ had attempted to defraud the state.

According to Austrian authorities,  Templ, who is Jewish, omitted his aunt’s name in the application for the restitution of his family’s property, which was seized and never returned after the Nazis led the Anschluss of Austria in 1938. The state argued that when Templ filled out the form for his mother in 2006 claiming the entire property, he was defrauding the state through the omission of his estranged relative. In April 2013, a judge at Vienna’s criminal court upheld charges and claimed Templ was “greedy” and wanted “the highest amount of money for himself.”

Templ is expected to begin serving his sentence soon.

What makes the case extraordinary is that rather than Templ and his family members settling the issue in court, the government intervened and filed the prosecution, sentencing Templ to one year in jail. Moreover, Templ is an activist historian in recognizing Austria’s decision not to return much plundered property, writing a book on the subject called Our Vienna: Aryanization, Austrian-Style and apparently leading tours through the Austrian capital pointing out these stolen properties and calling out the names of the families who’ve since moved in by megaphone, according to The Times of Israel.

Among the authors of the letter are professors from India, Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Poland — no Austrian professors made the list. Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of its leading Nazi hunters, Walter Reich, a former executive director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Prof. Deborah E. Lipstadt, who famously outed British Holocaust denier David Irving, were all on the list. 

It read as follows:

Dear Ambassador Manz,

As scholars who have written or taught about the Holocaust or other genocides, we are deeply troubled by the impending imprisonment of an Austrian Jewish historian and journalist who exposed Austria’s failure to return Jewish property seized during the Nazi era.

The crime of which Mr. Templ has been convicted, and sentenced to one year in prison, was his omission of the name of an estranged relative from his application for the return of his family’s seized property. This matter could have been resolved by the Templ family in civil court. The Austrian government’s decision to intervene by prosecuting and jailing Mr. Templ will be seen as an extreme overreaction to Mr. Templ’s important book, Our Vienna: Aryanization Austrian-Style, which criticized Austria’s policy concerning the restitution of Jewish property.

Please convey to President Heinz Fischer our urgent request that he reconsider his rejection of Mr. Templ’s appeal against his prison sentence.

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  • Steve decter

    Seems my comments re Austria,s behavior ,have been deleted thanks a lot.

  • Zak Lamont

    The reason many of the death camps were manned by the Austrian SS is that the German S.S. found them too unruly and difficult to control.

    They felt they would be better controlled more directly under the German S.S. .

    Some of the most sadistic Nazis were Austrian.

  • Sherlock Holmes

    While Germany has long accepted responsibility for its war crimes, Austria has tried to see itself as a ‘victim’ of Germany rather than a more than willing partner in the murder of millions. As a % of population there were more Austrians than Germans in the SS. The word ‘anti-semitism’ for blaming all the world’s problems on the Jews was coined in 19th century Vienna.

  • jeremy

    The very short term veneer, that Eurotrash were not 1800 year (proven by their laws, nd bad guys in their books, for that long,) unyielding, genicidal antisemies has ended.

    They are resuming their war on a tiny reliogion’s women and children first at the weak areas like Iceland, since Christianity colonized Iceland it doesn’t have enough Jews to have persecuted them, so though it to by default were under the genicidal laws of Theodosius, the Christian Credes, it has no history oof carrying them out. That is why they chose Icelad to soften the target, and make the first genicidal “shot”.

    Of course the South Ottaman Syrians are the biggest trick they have going.

    They gave some antisemites who pretended to be Jews some “holocaust reparations” for doing the most recent of the Catholic genocides that people recorded, for some random reason. So it is back to being psychotically genicidal, this time instead of a godman, they need to do it because of liberalism. Equally mandated though, equally important. Though the Jews actually played an oustsized, infinitely outsized proportion of creating both, this time like Islam did to the first one through Ishmael, they will censor it correctly.

  • Dorothy Hughes

    Austria, unlike Germany, has never done any soul-searching over its Nazi criminal past, trying to pass itself off as a victim country. In fact, many leading Nazis, including Hitler himself, were Austrian, and most of Austria welcomed the anschluss with Germany with open arms. It is disgusting behavior to prosecute this historian as a criminal, and unfortunately not surprising, especially given the antisemitic climate in Europe today. They never would have gone after him had he not exposed Austria’s crimes in his book.

    • Steve decter

      The behavior of the Austrian govt. is absolutely disgusting.Its a shame that there is no seriously organized effort to publicize this along with Austria,Germany and many other European countries conspiracy to keep stolen and looted artworks .It appears that that no one cares about this behavior which essentially is a continuation of the holocaust .For those countries it has NEVER. Ended.Thank,Steve decter( here,s my name Austria maybe you can come prosecute me as well.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    It’s Austria, what did you expect? It’s STILL a Nazi country. Proudly.