Victims of National-Socialism & Restitution Issues
On numerous occassions over the last years, high-ranking representatives of the Republic of Austria have acknowledged that Austrians were not just victims of National-Socialism but that many Austrians both supported the NS regime and committed (horrible) atrocities. Thus, the official Austria has since taken many steps to at least financially alleviate the pain and suffering many a victim of the NS regime had to endure.
A. National Fund of the Republic of Austria
a) One time Payment (no deadline)
In 1995, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism came into being. It has been charged with providing lump-sum payments of € 5.087 to individuals (and their relatives) who were persecuted by the NS regime (provided certain requirements regarding citizenship and residency are met). The amount of all payments made so far is well over € 140 million (to 28,000 applicants).
Detailled information and contact addresses are to be found on the website of the National Fund. There is no deadline and time-limit for applying for the one-time payment to the National Fund. The application form can be downloaded online.
b) Loss of Property (deadline expired)
In 2001, the Austrian parliament decided to appropriate an amount of USD 150 million to compensate victims of Nazi persection for loss of property (apartment leases, household property, personal valuables). Each individual meeting the criteria is entitled to a payment of USD 7,000. The application was to be presented to the National Fund until June 30, 2004 at the latest. A further extension of the deadline, as happened in the past, is not planed as of yet.
B. Restitution of Works of Art
Immediately after the end of WW II, numerous laws that provided for the return of stolen property were passed by parliament. Between 1945 and 1948 around 13,500 objects were returned to their original owners or heirs. In 1969 and again in 1985 two additional Art Restitutions Acts were passed by the legislature.
In 1998, based upon the "Return of Works of Arts Act" a commission within the Federal Ministry of Education, Sceince and Culture was set up. The commission is charged with systematically investigating all works of art acquired between 1938 and 1945 which are now owned by Austria. Works of arts not properly obtained will be returned to their original owners or the their heirs (investiagtions on the heirs are done in cooperation with the Jewish Community of Vienna).
C. General Settlement Fund
a) Payments in the claims-based process and the equity-based process (deadline expired)
The application deadline expired on May 28, 2003. The fund is endowed with an amount of USD 210 million and provides pro rata payments to individuals (or their heirs) and organizations persecuted by the NS regime. Well over 19,000 applications have been submitted.
The amount awarded (each claim is investigated by a three member panel, one member of which is appointed by the United States) can not exceed USD 2 million.
You can appeal a negative decision, but only one made under the claims-based process. Decisions under the equity-based process cannot be appealed.
b) In rem Restitution and Arbitration Panel (deadline expired)
The application deadline for in rem restitution of state property (real estate and buildings owned by Austria or its provinces (except Tyrol) on January 17, 2001) has been extended until December 31, 2006. The applications are examined by an independent three-member panel (one member is appointed by the United States) which will eventually decide about each application. Decisions by the Arbitration Panel cannot be appealed.
However, payments will be made and in rem restitutions will be carried out only after all claims against Austria and/or Austrian companies still pending in the United States will have been dismissed.
D. Reconciliation Fund (deadline expired)
After several extensions, the deadline for applications has ended on December 31, 2003. The fund was established on December 20, 2000, with contributions by the federal government, the provincial governments as well as the economic institutions of Austria .
By January 2005, 130.773 victims of slave labor who were deported to present day Austria during the NS era have received restitutions amounting to approximately 350 million Euro. These numbers will increase by the end of the December 31, 2005, when all applications which were submitted on time, are expected to have been processed.
For information on how to re-gain Austrian citizenship (for victims of the NS regime), please visit our webpage on Austrian Citizenship.
Detailled information about retirement benefits, victim welfare benefits, nursing care allowance, and certificates of life are to be found at Retirement & Social Benefits.
Addresses and contact information of Austrian Archives are listed at Genealogy in Austria.