Compensation for Nazi Victims
# Introduction
The Victims Welfare Act
Restitution and Compensation

In 1945 former resistance fighters and persecuted individuals had to face the ruins of their existence; many returning prisoners and former concentration camp inmates suffered from malnutrition, exhaustion, or were ill. Austrian postwar politics placed the responsibility for the National Socialist crimes on the doorsteps of the Reich or Germany. Austria in accordance with the Moscow Declaration of the Allies (1943), saw herself as the first victim of Hitler’s policy of aggression and, therefore, without any responsibility. For many years the Austrian measures to assist the victims of Nazism were confined mainly to welfare benefits and the restitution of confiscated property in so far as it still existed. In the early 1960s compensation for property irretrievably lost or destroyed and for other forms of material loss was granted to a modest extent. It was only in 1991 that key Austrian politicians confessed to a co-responsibility of Austrians for the crimes of the Nazis. From 1995 onward the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism granted for the first time lump sum payments to all persons persecuted by the Nazi regime, including homosexuals and those whom the Nazis had labeled »asocial.« The Washington Agreement of January 2001 was supposed to close the last restitution gaps. Based on this agreement, victims of the Nazi persecution received, for the first time, compensation for the rented apartments they had lost in 1938 and for those »Aryanized« (confiscated) businesses, which had been dissolved by the Nazis and, therefore, could not be restituted after 1945.

Social insurance legislation regulates that the time of persecution is taken into account when calculating state pensions. There are separate laws governing the compensation for public servants. Only with the help of victims’ associations or lawyers were the victims of Nazism able to find their way through this »jungle« of different regulations with different application deadlines and different authorities in charge.



Austria and the Victims of National Socialism