The Austrian government announced on Tuesday (November 13) that it will use an army barracks to house Soviet Jews in transit to Israel.
GV PAN Transit camp
MV Troops walk through camp PAN TO troops loading truck
GV Truck loaded
GV Troops loading truck
GV Trucks through camp TILT UP TO Austrian flag
GV Trucks moving out
GV More troops loading
GV Convoy of trucks along camp perimeter (3 shots)
Initials BB/1856 BL/AH/BB/1907
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Background: The Austrian government announced on Tuesday (November 13) that it will use an army barracks to house Soviet Jews in transit to Israel. The Government said the Schoenau transit centre, which Chancellor Bruno Kriesky pledged to close six weeks ago, would be closed "very shortly."
The new "aid centre" is to be established at Woellersdorf, about 28 miles (45 kms) south of Vienna, the Austrian capital, under the auspices of the Red Cross.
The Austrian government decided to close the Schoenau transit centre in late September, after bargaining with Arab guerrillas for the release of four hostages at Vienna Airport. Since then the centre has received hundreds of emigrants from the Soviet Union.
The Government has stressed that the Woellersdorf barracks, a 1930's detention centre for political prisoners, was not a replacement for Schoenau, and would be open to refugees from East Europe as well as Soviet Jews. It would be used in particular by immigrants in need of aid and medical attention.
The Schoenau camp run by the Israel-directed Jewish Agency, was available only to Jewish emigrants from Soviet Bloc countries. The opening of Woellersdorf will restore Austrian control over the transit arrangements for Soviet Jews.
The decision to set up the new "aid centre" has brought strong criticism from the head of the provincial government of Lower Austria, Governor Andreas Maurer. Herr Maurer said Schoenau Castle was not in effect being disbanded, merely moved. He said the new centre would be difficult to guard because it was in a valley and could be easily examined from higher ground. He also protested that the provincial government had not been informed or consulted about the decision, and said the Lower Austrian government would discuss the issue on the 20th of November.