Man faces jail in ‘revenge’ over restitution case

By Toby Axelrod, November 8, 2013
Follow The JC on Twitter

A Viennese Jewish journalist due to serve three years behind bars for failing to mention other heirs to property confiscated by the Nazis has claimed that the sentencing was revenge for his critical writings on reparations.

Stephan Templ, sentenced last April, is still waiting for an answer to his appeal, which he filed in July.

The court claimed that Mr Templ had wished to cheat Austria out of a possible windfall by failing to name other possible heirs.

Mr Templ was one of 38 people who applied for the restitution of a former sanatorium in Vienna that the Nazis confiscated from their ancestor Lothar Fürth, a Jewish doctor.

Dr Fürth committed suicide after suffering antisemitic abuse in 1938.

The Vienna Criminal Court accused Mr Templ — who has frequently reported on restitution matters, and written a book on the subject — of failing to mention other possible heirs in his application, including his 83-year-old aunt.

In April, the court found him guilty on the grounds that the aunt — had she been included in the restitution — might have left her part of the property to the state.

Reportedly, Austrian law does not require such applicants to name other possible heirs. And Mr Templ claimed that none of the 38 other claimants mentioned any other heirs in their applications.

The court found that Austria was the victim of wrongdoing by Mr Templ.

However, his aunt, now 84, reportedly missed the restitution application deadline herself and was turned down.

Mr Templ filed his appeal on July 19 and is still waiting.

He said: “There are still 80 property cases pending and it’s ridiculous how long it takes — since 2001 — to settle these cases.”

As for his appeal: “I hope the court decides soon. I don’t want to think about jail.”

Last updated: 5:45am, November 8 2013