Two restitution funds established by Austria to make amends for its role in the Nazi-era persecution of Austrian Jews in the period before and during the Holocaust have compensated thousands of claimants and their descendants around the world.
The National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, as well as the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism, have discharged Austria’s “moral responsibility” to the tune of almost $400 million so far.
As of Dec. 31, 2010,the National Fund had processed more than 26,000 claims for various property losses. Each claimant was entitled to a lump sum “gesture” payment of $7,000 (US). The fund has thus paid out about $200 million.
Due to social need, 409 claimants received a second payment, while 77 recipients received a third payment, thereby raising the overall figure.
Established in 1995, the National Fund recognizes claims by people who were citizens of Austria before it was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938 and who were persecuted on the basis of religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or physical or mental handicaps.
By the end of last year, the General Settlement Fund had distributed about $173 (US) million to more than 19,000 applicants, heirs and co-heirs living in some 75 countries.
Claimants in Canada accounted for 2.7 per cent of the payments, an Austrian government spokesperson said.
The General Settlement Fund was created in 2001 under the Washington Agreement, which compensates Holocaust survivors for stolen property and assets.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Hannah Lessing, secretary general of both funds, said in an interview. “We remain at the service of the survivors.”