Restitution Measures for Victims of National Socialism
In recognition of a shared responsibility for the plight of National Socialism which has brought misery to many people, the Republic of Austria and its economy sees it as its moral responsibility to provide voluntary financial contributions to those affected. They are a part of the reprocessing of questions opened by the past and to be seen as a gesture of good will, even if the immeasurable suffering of the victims of National Socialism cannot ever be offset by financial means.
Austria is conscious of the fact that crimes committed by the Nazis cannot in any way be compensated. Yet, Austria today tries her utmost to live up to her historic responsibilities and to set signals.
The following links take you to the homepages of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism and the General Settlement Fund as well as the Reconciliation Fund:
Restitution of looted art
The aim of the Art Restitution Act which was passed in Austria in 1998 as well as the modification of federal law concerning the restitution of works of art in 2009 is to give collective items from Austrian federal museums and collections, which became federal property because or as a result of the NS-tyranny, back to their original owners or their rightful heirs.
The contents of the archives of the Austrian federal museums and collections are therefore inspected systematically and consistently. Staff members of the Commission for Provenance Research operate in the individual federal museums, where they inspect the inventory, holdings of the archives and objects for provenance clues. With the help of corresponding databases, registries and files the results of the research are summarized in dossiers and are transmitted to the office of the Commission for Provenance Research. The office presents these dossiers to the Advisory Board established in the Federal Chancellery (until February 28th 2014 BMUKK), according to § 3 of the Art Restitution Act.
The Advisory Board which holds regular meetings inspects the dossier and assesses the circumstances according to the requirements of the Art Restitution Act. The Advisory Board addresses its recommendations to the Federal Minister in charge respectively, in this case the Bundesminister für Kunst und Kultur, Verfassung und Medien. The recommendations are published.
The Commission’s analysis occurs systematically as a result of statutory assignment and does not occur as a result of underlying claims by persons concerned. Nevertheless, the Commission’s office is available as contact and inquiry office as well as coordination office for restitutions of other regional authorities (provinces, municipalities). The Commission’s and the Advisory Board’s functions are described to the National Assembly in the annual Restitution Reports (Restitution Reports and Federal Chancellery/Restitution Reports).
The Regulation of the Restitution of Artworks in Austria = PDF – only available in German
For the homepage of the Historical Commission of the Republic of Austria to investigate and report on the whole complex of expropriations in Austria during the Nazi era and on restitution and/or compensation (including other financial or social benefits) after 1945 by the Republic of Austria follow this link:
Information on Rehabilitation of Victims of the Justice System 1933 - 1938 and 1938 – 1945
· Rehabilitation of Victims of the Justice System 1933 - 1938 (only German)
A number of institutions dedicate their work to the memorial of the Nazi past in Austria, e.g.
- Mauthausen Memorial
- Ebensee Concentration Camp Memorial
- Hartheim Castle - Memorial to the Victims of Euthanasia Crimes during the Years 1940-1944
- Gusen Memorial
or the scientific institutions or projects
- Project National Socialism and the Holocaust: Memory and Present (German only)
- Documentation Centre of the Austrian Resistance
- Memorial Book for the Victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938
The history of the Second Republic with regard to the dealing with National Socialism is documented at the Austrian Research Center for Post War Trials.
Today, Austrian "Zivildiener" (young Austrians in compulsory civilian service as a substitute for military conscription) work in memorial institutions in several European countries as well as the US and Israel. Also, the civil society in Austria is engaged in the memory of the Holocaust and the fight against anti-semitism and racism:
- A Letter to the Stars
- Forum against anti-Semitism
- Verein demokratische Bildung (German only)
- Austrian Memorial Service (German only)
- Austrian Service abroad (German only)
Links to the Jewish Community, Museums and Memorials