Austria has adopted a law that allows for the creation of a $50 million fund for Nazi victims.
The fund, officially known as the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for the Victims of National Socialism, was created in connection with the 50th anniversary of the reestablishment of the republic as a gesture toward the victims of the Nazi regime.
The law, adopted June 1, was introduced by Austria’s governing coalition parties.
Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, said he would reserve judgment concerning the fund until the final details are worked out.
“This is Austria’s way of paying reparations without calling it reparations,” he said.
The use of the term “reparations” implies taking responsibility for the persecution of various peoples during World War II, he said. Taking responsibility has nothing to do with money, Steinberg added .
“Austria for nearly half a century has presented itself as the first victim of Hitler,” he said.
However, the fund is better than what existed for victims in the past, he said, “because in the past, there was nothing.”
According to a news release from the Austrian government, beneficiaries of the fund are people who were “persecuted by the Nazi regime out of political, racial, religious or ethnic reasons; because of their sexual orientation; or [because of] their disabilities.”
Other beneficiaries include those who had to leave Austria because of other reasons mentioned and those “who received no or insufficient payments, how are particularly needy or whose support seems otherwise justified,” according to the release.
about the 25,000 to 30,000 former Jews of Austria are alive from the World War II.