Sebastian Kurz (r), Federal Chancellor of Austria, speaks during a ceremony for the handover of citizenship certificates to the victims and their descendants who were expelled from Austria by the Nazi regime. Photo: Mary Altaffer / AP / dpa
He was honored that the descendants were ready to receive Austrian citizenship, said Kurz when handing over the relevant documents during his visit to New York on Tuesday.
“We cannot change what Austrians did during the Nazi regime,” said the head of government. But his country wanted to be a reliable partner for the bereaved of Nazi victims. The citizenships went to five descendants of people who had fled during the Nazi era and a 92-year-old woman who had to flee to the United States herself.
The appointment for Kurz’s first major trip abroad since the beginning of the corona pandemic is related to a new regulation in Austria: since September this has made it easier for descendants of victims of Nazi persecution to be naturalized. Until then, descendants of Jews, political opponents of National Socialism and other groups such as the Roma and Sinti could only receive citizenship if they were descended from a male victim. But now children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can also become Austrians in the female line.
The new regulation arouses great interest among their descendants. According to the responsible city of Vienna, almost 13,700 applications were received between September and the end of June – most of them from Israel, the USA and Great Britain. Around 7,900 people have already been granted citizenship. (SDA)