December 8, 2005

Austria to begin Nazi victim payments next week

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria will start paying roughly $210
million in compensation to victims of the Nazi regime next week
after the last U.S. lawsuit claiming damages from Austria was
dropped, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said on Thursday.

Austria, which was incorporated into Adolf Hitler's Third
Reich in 1938, set up a fund to compensate victims of Nazism
for such losses as the confiscation of property and being
denied education, but said payments would only begin when
lawsuits in the United States over those losses were abandoned.

"I have the great pleasure to be able to say today that we
have reached legal closure through the dismissal of the last
lawsuit in the American courts," Schuessel told reporters in
German after meeting U.S. President George W. Bush in

His comments were broadcast on Austrian state television.

"The first payment can begin next week after a
corresponding decision by the Austrian government," he said.

Some of the lawsuits claiming compensation for losses
caused by the Nazis in what is now Austria were brought against
the Austrian state, while others demanded damages from Austrian

Roughly 19,000 applications for compensation from the $210
million fund have been filed but only part of those have been
processed so far.

The head of Austria's Jewish community, Ariel Muzicant,
told Austrian news agency APA he was "more than happy" with the

"We are jubilant," he was quoted as saying.