Austrian historian writes about Holocaust restitution from jail

Historians in the News
tags: Holocaust, Stephan Templ, Holocaust restitution



If Stephan Templ’s trial and imprisonment in Austria were meant to silence his criticism of the country’s Holocaust restitution system, then his prosecution was clearly a failure.

Templ is an Austrian-Jewish historian of the Holocaust who has written critically about his country since 1995.

In 2015, he was sent to jail for nearly a year on controversial fraud charges tied to his family’s own claim for compensation — and spent his time in prison diving even deeper into his area of expertise.

The result is a new book that for the first time chronicles how modern-day Austria gave its seal of approval for flawed restitution practices that were overseen by former Nazis. Those practices, Templ shows, in essence validated Nazi-era policies that were used to rob Austrian Jews of what little compensation they sought to receive for vast assets that they had been forced to sell to Aryans.

“The wrongly imprisoned experience a special kind of frustration: Your thoughts get into a cycle about where you are and who put you there,” Templ, 57, told JTA. His sentence was decried as a miscarriage of justice by dozens of leading Holocaust historians.

Templ was convicted of fraud for not listing an aunt on his survivor mother’s restitution claim, which he filled out for her. Neither Templ nor his mother wrote that they were the only claimants to the property. Austria has no law requiring restitution applicants to list other relatives. In previous official correspondence about the claim, Templ did list his aunt, which he argues means he had indeed informed the Republic of Austria of her existence. ...

Read entire article at The Jerusalem Post

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