Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has presented several descendants of the victims of the Nazi regime with Austrian citizenship at a ceremony in New York.
Kurz stated that was honoured that the descendants were willing to receive Austrian citizenship.
“We cannot change the crimes of Austrians during the Nazi regime,” the Chancellor said. However, Austria wants to be a reliable partner for the surviving dependents of Nazi victims, he declared. Citizenship was awarded to five descendants of refugees during the Nazi era and to a 92-year-old woman who had fled herself to the United States.
Since September 2020, it is much easier for the descendants of victims of Nazi persecution to attain Austrian citizenship. Previously, the descendants of Jews, political opponents of National Socialism and other groups such as the Roma and Sinti could only obtain citizenship if they were descended from a male victim. Currently, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of male and female persecutees can also become Austrians.
The new regulation has met with great interest among their descendants. Between September and the end of June, according to the responsible city of Vienna, almost 13,700 applications were received – most of them from Israel, the USA and Great Britain. Around 7900 people have already been granted citizenship.
The ceremony took place during Sebastian Kurz’s first major trip abroad since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.