German Cemetary 248x88 AP.
(photo credit: )
VIENNA — Austria's parliament passed a bill Wednesday to provide €20 million ($27 million) in federal funds for restoring Jewish cemeteries over the next two decades.
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The move ends years of discord over who should pay for the much-needed endeavor to preserve the remnants of a once vibrant community decimated by the Nazis.
The bill foresees annual government payments of €1 million ($1.4 million) into a special fund over the next 20 years. The country's Jewish community will supplement the government's contributions each year through €1 million in donations.
The measure, which takes effect in 2011, also asks local municipalities where such cemeteries are located to maintain them for at least 20 years after they have been restored.
Ariel Muzicant, president of the Jewish Community Vienna, welcomed
Wednesday's vote, which followed a government pledge to provide funds
"I'm overjoyed and satisfied that a way has been found to save such an
important cultural heritage," Muzicant told The Associated Press.
In total, there are 61 Jewish cemeteries in the Alpine republic, he said.
An estimated 65,000 Austrian Jews perished in the Holocaust and many
others fled. In 1938, about 192,000 Jews lived in Austria, according to
the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.