EAST BERLIN, SEPT. 13 -- The West German government has moved to halt temporarily the flow of Soviet Jews to Germany and plans to seek a quota for admission of Soviet immigrants after German unification next month, according to Bonn's Interior Ministry.

Thousands of Jews who sought for years to leave the Soviet Union have arrived in East Berlin in the past four months, reviving a Jewish community that had dwindled to near-extinction after oppression by successive Nazi and Communist governments.

But with tens of thousands of additional Soviet Jews asking for visas at East and West German consulates in several Soviet cities, the Bonn government has told its diplomats to stop processing applications and has asked the East German government to give a similar order to its representatives in the Soviet Union.

The West German order, issued by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble along with Bonn's Foreign Ministry, noted that applications from Soviet Jews had risen sharply in recent weeks and instructed all West German offices in the Soviet Union "for the present to process no further" applications from Soviets, according to the Interior Ministry's statement. The Bonn government said it will seek an agreement with the Soviet Union to impose an admission quota on Soviet immigrants after the two Germanys merge on Oct. 3.

The United States, which has faced a similar influx of Soviet immigrants, has set a Soviet immigration ceiling of 80,000 during the current fiscal year -- far fewer than the number of Soviet applicants. Under the U.S. limit, about 50,000 Soviets are allowed to enter as refugees, a status carrying eligibility for assistance usually amounting to about $7,000 each. Another 30,000 may enter on a "parole" basis, with no government financial support.

Officials in Bonn said that the West German consulate in Kiev has received 10,000 applications from Jews seeking to immigrate to Germany. West German consular offices in Moscow and elsewhere have had similar numbers of requests, officials said.

Annetta Kahan, director of the East Berlin office for foreigners, said in an interview that Bonn's Interior Ministry had repeatedly told her during the past two weeks that it had no plan to stop the flow of Jews to the two German states. The ministry announced the new policy in response to press inquiries.

"It's an absolute hard line," Kahan said. "One official in Bonn told me, 'We're not taking over any old burdens from East Germany -- refugees, Jews, anything.' "

Kahan added that, under the Bonn government's current plans, thousands of other foreigners living in East Germany must return to their native countries after reunification. "About 70,000 people, mostly guest workers from Cuba, Vietnam and other countries that East Germany had contracts with, will be sent back home on charter flights," Kahan said.

{German Jewish organizations criticized the West German move, the Associated Press reported. East Berlin's Jewish Cultural Union termed it out of step with "the German responsibility toward the Jewish people."}

Soviet Jews have come to East Germany in recent months, in part, because of a government decision to welcome them and, in part, because of job opportunities that became available when East German professionals fled to the West last year. Most Soviet Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel have traveled by way of Hungary and Austria, rather than East Germany.

Although several hundred of the arriving Soviet Jews have spent weeks in refugee camps set up by the East German government, Kahan said, most have quickly found jobs, largely in professional fields. "In most cases, these are extremely well-educated scientists and other researchers whose skills are very much needed in this country," Kahan said.

The non-Communist government elected in East Germany this spring sought to welcome Soviet Jews as part of the country's admission of responsibility for its role in the Holocaust and for antisemitic policies carried out by Nazi Germany and by Stalinist East Germany.

"I go to the bureaucrats in West Berlin and ask for places in their refugee facilities for the Soviet Jews," Kahan said. "I tell them this is a chance to prove that Germans can be trusted."

According to official statistics, about 400 Jews lived in East Germany before the Soviet influx. But unofficial estimates put the total at several thousand. Most of these Jews chose not to divulge their religious affiliation to the Communist government.

West Germany's Jewish community also is believed to be considerably larger than the official figure of about 40,000. Worried because of the country's legacy of antisemitism, many Jews in West Germany do not want the government to know their religion and do not want to belong to a state-recognized Jewish community, analysts say.

West Berlin's state-recognized Jewish community has implored Bonn to allow more Soviet Jews to enter the country. The Interior Ministry has said the Jewish community will be allowed to take part in discussions with the Soviets over future immigration.

The leader of the Jewish community, Heinz Galinski, also has protested in recent weeks because of a preamble to the unification treaty between the two Germanys. He has contended that the preamble fails specifically to mention the country's responsibility for the attempted annihilation of European Jews under the Nazi government.