Austria to give citizenship to descendants of Holocaust survivors

The scope of the new law includes both those who fled Austria and those who survived concentration camps.

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September 21, 2019 18:33
1 minute read.
Austria to give citizenship to descendants of Holocaust survivors

Austrian Parliament in Vienna, Austria March 19, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS/HEINZ-PETER BADER)

The Austrian parliament legislation on Thursday allowing the descendants of those who were persecuted by the Nazis in the country to obtain citizenship.

The scope of the law includes both those who fled Austria and those who survived concentration camps.

The president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, called the decision “historic.”

“With this decision, the Republic of Austria meets its historical responsibility,” he said in a statement.

According to the London-based Jewish Chronicle, not only children but also grandchildren and great-grandchildren of survivors will be able to apply for an Austrian passport.

Under the previous nationality law, only Nazi victims themselves could reclaim citizenship.

The newspaper highlights the implications for British Jews of Austrian descent, who will be able to obtain the passport without giving up their UK citizenship or moving to the country. Since Austria is a member of the European Union, this means that those who chose to do so will maintain their EU citizenship after Brexit, slated to take place on October 31.

According to the JC, changing the Austrian nationality law was part of former chancellor Sebastian Kurz's political platform from the beginning of his tenure as the country’s leader in December 2017. However, the collapse of its coalition earlier this year prevented his government from passing the measure.

In spite of the political crisis that will send the nation to early elections on September 29, Austrian parties agreed to approve the legislation in the parliament under the caretaker government led by Brigitte Bierlein, ex-president of Austria’s constitutional court.

Descendants of Austrian Holocaust survivors will be able to start applying for citizenship on September 1, 2020.


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