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Jewish Historian Sentenced to Prison in Austria, Court

Rejects ADL's Appeal
Jewish historian, Stephan Templ, will serve jail time for fraud, having failed to mention his mother's
estranged sister in his 2006 restitution application.
JTA 16.09.2015 14:38
Austria’s president denied a request by the Anti-Defamation League to pardon a Jewish historian
facing jail time for the omission of his aunt from his family’s application for Holocaust restitution.
The denial came in a Sept. 8 letter sent by an employee of Austrian President Heinz Fischer’s office to
Andrew Srulevitch, ADL’s assistant director for international affairs, in reply to Srulevitch’s plea to
nullify the prison sentence of Stephan Templ before he is to report to prison later this month.
Recalling that Templ had exhausted all avenues of appeal, the letter states: “The judgment is therefore
In May, the Austrian Supreme Court rejected Templ’s appeal over his April 2014 conviction of fraud
against Austria, which judges found he committed by failing in his 2006 restitution application to
mention his mother’s estranged sister. He was sentenced to three years in jail, but the sentence
was later reduced to one year.
Templ is the author of a 2001 book on restitution in which he criticized the Austrian state and
society’s theft of Jewish property and failures to offer restitution. Many Austrian Jews, including the
anti-fascist campaigner and journalist Karl Pfeifer, said they considered the conviction to be a result
of a vendetta against Templ. Austrian officials deny this, saying his conviction is consistent with the
law and penal code.
But critics of the original ruling noted that Austria never legally owned the property and therefore
cannot be regarded as a victim of Templ’s actions. Others point out that Austria’s laws do not require
restitution claimants to list other heirs.
“The extraordinary use of criminal law by the state in the case of Stephan Templ raises some
uncomfortable questions,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s national director, wrote to the president in
Earlier this month, Templ obtained proof that an Austrian official who was tasked, in his capacity as a
public notary, with finding all the heirs to the property relevant to Templ’s claim also omitted
Templ’s aunt and another heir from his list.
“The latest twist in this absurd story of injustice is that the Austrian state committed the same act for
which its justice system convicted me,” Templ told JTA.