Claims Conference Announces Austrian Holocaust Survivor Reparations

(Courtesy of Claims Conference) The Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria (Claims Conference) is releasing their outcomes of their negotiations with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Austrian Holocaust survivors living globally, resulting in approximately $13.27 million in direct payments for Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivors globally in 2023.

For the first time in over 20 years, the federal government of Austria agreed to pay every living Austrian Holocaust survivor an additional direct compensation payment of approximately $5,000 per survivor. Further, those from among the estimated 2,500 who are in special need will be able to receive a second payment of approximately $5,000 in 2023. For 2024 and every subsequent year, further additional payments will be available for those who are determined to be in special need.

By the end of World War II, the Nazis had murdered 65,000 Jews in Austria, more than one third of the Jewish population of approximately 185,000 that lived in the country in March 1938. The remainder fled, leaving their homes and all belongings behind. Today, worldwide, approximately 2,500 Jewish survivors of Austrian origin are alive, with most living in the United States and Israel, and smaller populations primarily in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, South America and several Western European countries.

In addition to the direct payments, as a result of these negotiations, the Austrian Holocaust Survivors Emergency Assistance Program (AHSEAP) has doubled to $3 million for 2024. In 2003, the Claims Conference initiated the AHSEAP to provide financial assistance to Austrian Holocaust survivors. Negotiated funds are allocated to social welfare agencies and made available to eligible Austrian survivors through short-term emergency grants for medical needs, eviction prevention and other urgent and unexpected issues.

In addition, the Austrian government announced that it will continue in a working group with the Claims Conference to develop and fund projects of Holocaust education, both on a national level in Austria and consider international projects as well. The Claims Conference is committed to aiding elderly survivors, especially those in poverty, as long as needed. As this generation unfortunately grows smaller, the Claims Conference will ensure that their voices remain.

Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, said, “After ongoing negotiations, we are pleased to have achieved this milestone with the Austrian government. While the Claims Conference has been supporting Austrian Jewish survivors with critically needed assistance for home care and other welfare services, these additional payments from the Austrian government, while symbolic, will go a long way for some of the more vulnerable in that waning population.”

Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, special negotiator for the Claims Conference, who had previously negotiated under the Clinton Administration as deputy secretary of the treasury and special adviser to the president and secretary of state on Holocaust issues, resulting in the January 2001 Washington agreement with the government of Austria said, “The impact of this hard-fought, symbolic payment for Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivors cannot be overstated. Aside from the money, which will undoubtedly be a benefit to those who receive it, this achievement indicates a level of accountability and acknowledgment on behalf of the Austrian government. These elderly Holocaust survivors, one third of whom live in poverty today, suffered grievously in their youth. This gesture of responsibility acknowledges their suffering and hopefully slightly eases their burden in this final chapter of their lives.”

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