The restoration of democratic structures required coming to terms with Nazi crimes. This was done by means of bureaucratic sanctions or criminal proceedings. Indi-viduals who had committed what has been termed »Nazi crimes« were tried and sentenced by courts specially installed for this purpose – the so-called People’s Courts (Volksgerichte). The Austrian government also took measures to remove former Nazis from official positions and professions.
These efforts should be seen in the context of the general desire to speed up the withdrawal of the Allied troops from Austria and to reach a comprehensive settlement, a state treaty, with the Allied powers. From the very beginning, how-ever, the typical Nazi »hanger-on« was offered the prospect of reintegration into Austrian society. As early as 1947 the Conservative ÖVP and the Socialist SPÖ called for a relaxation of the denazification regulations and of the Nazi prose-cutions by the courts. The following year the first amnesty was proclaimed and by 1949 many ex-Nazis had their voting rights restored.
Attempts on the part of the parliament to abolish the People’s Courts were blocked by an Allied veto. These special courts were finally closed down in December 1955, shortly after the Allies had left the country. The full reintegration of former Nazis into Austrian society was completed with the proclamation of a general amnesty in 1957. Other key items of legislation were partially or fully abolished, such as the War Criminals Act or the act banning the NSDAP, Nazi organizations, and Nazi activities. By the mid-1960s, on account of the statute of limitations, it was only possible to bring those individuals before court suspected of direct involvement in Nazi murders. The last verdict was passed on 2 December 1975, thus ending, in effect, the prosecution of Nazi crimes in Austria.