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Right to a passport for descendants of Nazi victims

People who were themselves victims of the Nazi regime could already acquire Austrian citizenship in this way. Now their direct descendants, i.e. children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., are also entitled.

Adopted children can also take advantage of the new regulation, although the adoption must have taken place as a minor, as stated in an information sheet from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From an Austrian point of view, dual citizenship is permitted.

Legally defined

A victim of the Nazi regime is defined in the law as follows: as a person “who, as an Austrian citizen or a citizen of one of the successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy or stateless person with main residence in the federal territory, went abroad before 15 May 1955 because she had reason to fear or suffered persecution by organs of the NSDAP or the authorities of the Third Reich or because she was exposed to or had to fear persecution because of her standing up for the democratic republic of Austria ”.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an online questionnaire must first be filled out for the notification. Information about the ancestor must also be given there. The information is intended to enable the Austrian authorities, in particular the National Fund for Victims of National Socialism, to conduct research in historical files and archives. The questionnaire is available in German, English, Hebrew (input only possible with Latin characters) and Spanish.

Not automatically dual citizens

The actual notification procedure is initiated by submitting a notification form, which has been pre-filled with the information from the online questionnaire, as well as any additional documents required. Submissions can be made, for example, to Vienna Municipal Department 35 (Immigration and Citizenship) and - abroad - to Austrian representative authorities (embassies, consulates general), which forward the documents to MA 35.

The ministry points out that those affected who acquire Austrian citizenship are not automatically dual citizens. You could keep your previous citizenship within the framework of the Austrian legal regulation in addition to the new Austrian one, although Austria usually excludes multiple citizenships. Due to the law in the other country, you could lose your previous citizenship if you accept the Austrian one.

"Very good news, very big step"

The “ensuring professional care of victims of National Socialism and their descendants during the procedures in the implementation of the Citizenship Act” is provided for in the program of the federal government made up of the ÖVP and the Greens. Descendants of Nazi victims live today, among other things. in Latin America.

The Austrian ambassador in Buenos Aires, Christoph Meran, who is responsible not only for Argentina, but also for Uruguay and Paraguay, said according to the Argentine newspaper “El Libertador”: “Thousands of Austrians had to flee from the horrors of the persecution of National Socialism and found one new home in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The fact that descendants can now acquire Austrian citizenship is very good news and a big step that has been taken in my country. "

The Guardian expects great British interest

The British "Guardian" also devoted an article to the matter on Sunday. In Great Britain alone, “tens of thousands” of citizens would be eligible as descendants of Nazi victims for Austrian citizenship; in total there were “at least 200,000”. With the amendment, Austria brings its citizenship law "in line with German laws," writes the newspaper.

Since the vote for Great Britain to leave the EU in 2016 at the end of January 2019, passports from EU countries have been very popular with the British - even among the Jewish population, Simon Albert of the Jewish Historical Society of England is quoted as saying. The company has a project going on. In it, former refugees and their descendants describe their motivation for applying for citizenship of the country from which they or their parents / grandparents / great-grandparents fled.

"Can ensure justice in the future"

The Guardian doubts that the Jewish community in Austria will grow significantly through the granting of citizenships and immigration. According to the President of the European Union of Jewish Students, the Austrian Bini Guttmann, the descendants of Nazi victims could show presence in Austria as Austrians.

“Descendants know where intolerance can lead. As a citizen, I would encourage you to use your vote to have a say in the direction the country is taking. Citizenship law offers more than historical justice, because it can contribute to (...) ensuring justice in the future, ”said Guttmann. The amendment to the law was carried out during the time of the Federal Government by interim Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein. ÖVP, SPÖ and FPÖ had agreed on a joint amendment.

IKG praised the law

The Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (IKG) Vienna and the National Fund welcomed this in September of the previous year. "With this decision, the Republic of Austria is living up to its historical responsibility," said IKG President Oskar Deutsch at the time. He praised the fact that not only Austrians, but now also citizens of the states of the former Danube monarchy are included. In addition, unequal treatment - descendants of female survivors, in contrast to the children of male Nazi victims, could not obtain citizenship - have been resolved, according to Deutsch.

On the occasion of the parliamentary resolution, President of the National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP), also as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Fund of the Republic for Victims of National Socialism, said: “Austria is a strong and well-established democracy and has faced the difficult times of its history in the last few decades. The possibility of granting the descendants of Holocaust victims Austrian citizenship is a sign of responsibility and deep respect for the victims of the Holocaust, also for future generations. "