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Austria Bank To Review WWII Claims

September 13, 1998

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ A major Austrian bank said Sunday it is ready for a ``comprehensive review″ of its Nazi-era past and has already held talks in New York to resolve claims by Holocaust survivors.

In a statement, Creditanstalt and its parent company, Bank Austria, said its attorneys met Thursday in New York with lawyers for Holocaust victims on the compensation issue.

Although the statement made no mention of any agreement, the bank said the talks were ``constructive″ and will continue.

The bank said it ``is extremely anxious to have a comprehensive review of the role of″ Creditanstalt, which was taken over by Germany’s Deutsche Bank during the Nazi era.

``Out of moral responsibility towards the Jewish people and out of homage to the indescribable suffering cause by the Holocaust,″ the bank said it was committed to ``an overall resolution of all matters which exist in this connection.″

New York attorney Edward Fagan, who represents a group of Holocaust survivors, has been seeking compensation for gold stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families and allegedly transferred by Creditanstalt to Turkey during the Second World War.

The Austrian news magazine Profil, in its issue for sale Monday, claims Creditanstalt maintained ``business contacts″ with at least 13 concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Dachau.

Profil said documents discovered in Polish archives showed that Creditanstalt’s branch in the Polish city of Krakow was used from 1941 for Polish families to transfer funds for use by relatives in the nearby Auschwitz camp.

The magazine said the branch bank regularly received official lists of those who had died in the camp so bank officials would know which funds were not to be transferred.

Creditanstalt said it could not comment on the magazine report until it had time to study the material. The magazine said the Polish documents provided clear evidence that German and Austrian bankers were aware of the death rates in concentration camps.

Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, one year before the war began in Europe.

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