Practice Relating to Rule 150. Reparation
In 1995, by its National Fund Law (1995), Austria established a national fund “for the provision of benefits to the victims of National Socialism”.
The Law provides:
The Fund shall render benefits to persons
(1) who were persecuted by the National Socialist regime for political reasons, for reasons of birth, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, because of physical or mental disability or on the basis of accusations of allegedly antisocial attitudes, or who in other ways fell victim to typically National Socialist injustice or left the country to escape such persecution,
(4) The Fund shall render one-time-only or recurrent financial benefits.
In its 2001 amendment, the Law further provides:
(1) Without prejudice to [previous contributions], the Federal Government shall contribute to the Fund an amount the total of which shall correspond to the equivalent in Schillings as of 24 October 2000 of 150 million US Dollars and be allocated [to the Fund]. This amount shall be accounted for by the Fund in a special account for benefits paid under Paragraph 2.
(2) This amount shall be used for benefits to be paid to victims of National Socialism … as a final compensation for the following categories of losses of property:
a) apartment and small business leases;
b) household property;
c) personal valuables and effects.
The present Federal Law shall be without prejudice to the in rem return of works of art according to statutory provisions.
(3) Persons … who were persecuted by the National Socialist regime on political grounds, on grounds of origin, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or of physical or mental handicap, or who left the country to escape such persecution, and who themselves, or whose parents, suffered a loss of property in one of the categories mentioned in Paragraph 2 as a result of, or in connection with, events in the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria between 13 March 1938 and 9 May 1945 shall be entitled to such benefits. There is no legal right to benefits by the Fund.
(6) The amount mentioned in Paragraph 1 shall be distributed in equal parts among those entitled to benefits.
In 2000, Austria adopted the Reconciliation Fund Law (2000), as amended in 2001, establishing a national fund, the goal of which was
to make a contribution toward reconciliation, peace, and cooperation through a voluntary gesture of the Republic of Austria to natural persons who were coerced into slave labor or forced labor by the National Socialist regime on the territory of the present day Republic of Austria.
The Law provides: “The Fund shall have moneys in the amount of 6 billion Austrian schillings to carry out its tasks.”
The Law also provides that the amounts (one-time payments) are to be paid as follows:
1. 105,000 Austrian schillings to [slave labourers].
2. 35,000 Austrian schillings to [forced labourers] who had to perform forced labor in industry, business, construction, power companies and other commercial enterprises, public institutions, rail transportation or postal service.
3. 20,000 Austrian schillings to [forced labourers] who had to do forced labor exclusively in agriculture or forestry or in the form of personal services (housekeeping, hotel work, etc).
4.Children and minors [who were transported under the age of 12 with one or both parents into the territory of the present day Republic of Austria or who were born here during the mother’s period of forced labor] are to receive the amount to which the parent is entitled or would be entitled …
5. A supplementary payment of 5,000 Austrian schillings may be made to women who during their time as forced labourers gave birth to children in maternity facilities for eastern workers or who were forced to undergo abortions.
Another provision states: “If the eligible person has died on or after February 15, 2000, then the heirs … shall succeed.”
In addition, the Law provides:
Payment of an award is made under the condition that the recipient make a declaration that with the receipt of an award under this federal law he renounces irrevocably any claim for slave labor or forced labor against the Republic of Austria or against Austrian business.
The Austrian Reconciliation Fund Law came into force on 27 November 2000 after the signing of bilateral agreements between Austria and six Central and Eastern European countries (Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine), as well as the Executive Agreement with the United States, and the securing of the financial resources for the Reconciliation Fund, in fulfilment of the requirements of the law.
In 2001, Austria adopted the General Settlement Fund Law by which it established the General Settlement Fund, the purpose of which was “to comprehensively resolve open questions of compensation of victims of National Socialism for losses and damages as a result of or in connection with events having occurred on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria during the National Socialist era”. The Law provides:
The Fund’s purpose shall be to acknowledge, through voluntary payments, the moral responsibility for losses and damages inflicted upon Jewish citizens and other victims of National Socialism as a result of or in connection with the National Socialist Regime. The return of works of art shall be governed by the special legislation presently in force.
The Law further provides:
To carry out its tasks, the Fund shall be endowed with an amount of 210 million US Dollars. This amount shall be made available, at the latest, 30 days after all claims in the United States pending as of June 30, 2001 against Austria or Austrian companies arising out or related to the National Socialist era or World War II have been dismissed. Excepted therefrom are claims covered by the Reconciliation Fund … claims for the return of works of art, as well as claims in rem
restitution against provinces or municipalities.
In addition, the Law provides:
(1) Persons (under the claims-based process also associations), who/which were persecuted by the National Socialist regime on political grounds or origin, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or of physical or mental handicap or of accusations of so-called asociality, or who left the country to escape such persecution, and who suffered losses or damages as a result of or in connection with events having occurred on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria during the National Socialist era shall be eligible to file an application.
(2) In addition … heirs of eligible claimants as defined in Paragraph 1 shall also be eligible to file an application. In case of a defunct association, an association which the Claims Committee regards as the legal successor shall be entitled to file an application as well.
The Law expressly states:
The payments shall be awarded as a final compensation for losses and damages as a result of or in connection with events having occurred on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria during the National Socialist era. There shall be no legal right to these payments.