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Austrian Compensation Law, Passed by Parliament, Irks Nazi Victims

The Austrian coalition government, in the face of vehement opposition from all groups from the neo-Nazi right to the far left, late yesterday pushed through a compensation law equating persecutees of the Nazis with victims of World War II. Anticipating disorders as a result of its action, the government posted heavy police guards about Parliament, but no demonstrations occurred.

Associations of political and racial persecutees immediately announced that they would continue to press for legislation to meet their demands, which include compensation for public employees who suffered damages through dismissal by the Nazi regime. In a radio address, meanwhile, Chancellor Julius Raab admitted the justice of the persecutees’ demands, but asserted that the government was not in an economic position to meet all claims and therefore had compromised on its present legislation.

The bill passed by Parliament provided a sliding-scale of payments up to a maximum of the equivalent of $1,000 in most cases and $2,000 in cases where “duress” was involved in the damages. Claims are limited to losses of individuals, not organizations, and cover only loss of apartments or property and equipment needed for professional purposes.

The period covered by claims ranges from March 6, 1933, when the Socialist regime was overthrown by Chancellor Dolfuss, to May 8, 1945, when the Allied armies drove the Nazis out and liberated Austria. The deadline for filing claims under the measure is June 30, 1959.

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