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Chronology

1995

On the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Second Republic, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism is founded on the basis of the National Fund Law. The fund is directed at surviving victims of National Socialist dictatorship, to whom a symbolic gesture payment of 5,087.10 Euro (70,000 Schilling) is awarded.


1997

In November, by decision of the Austrian Parliament, the 5th May - the day of the liberation of the concentration camp Mauthausen - is designated as Day against Violence and Racism in memory of the victims of National Socialism.


1998

The Nazi Persecutee Relief Fund is established within the scope of the London Conference on Nazi Looted Gold. Through a parliamentary act, the National Fund is entrusted with the administration of the Austrian share of the Nazi Persecutee Relief Fund ("Looted Gold Fund"). This fund is for the benefit of Holocaust survivors and projects related to the National Socialist era. On 1st October the Historical Commission of the Republic of Austria is established. The Art Restitution Law comes into effect. The field of responsibility of the National Fund is extended to include the disposition of non-restitutable looted art under the ownership of the Republic of Austria.


2000

Austria participates in the Stockholm Holocaust Conference. Subsequent to this conference, the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF) is founded. Within the scope of the Vienna Reconciliation Fund Conference in May, a continuation of the restitution negotiations after the conclusion of negotiations on compensation for forced laborers ("Reconciliation Fund") is decided. Secretary General Hannah M. Lessing is appointed to the Austrian restitution negotiations team under the direction of Ambassador Ernst Sucharipa.


The independent Historical Commission of the Bank Austria Creditanstalt commences investigations into the activities of the Creditanstalt-Bankverein, the Länderbank Vienna and the Zentralsparkasse of the Municipality Vienna during the National Socialist period (Austrian Bank Settlement). The National Fund informs its applicants about the initiative of the Bank Austria Creditanstalt.


2001

The Republic of Austria is accepted into the ITF; at the same time the coordination department for Austria is established within the National Fund. The restitution negotiations are brought to a close with the Washington Agreement of 17th January 2001. On the basis of this agreement, the National Fund is entrusted with compensation of withdrawn tenancy rights, household effects and personal valuables (so-called tenancy rights compensation). A sum of 150 million US Dollars was made available for this purpose, which is disbursed in the form of lump sum payments of 7,630 Euro or 7,000 US Dollars per applicant. The deadline for submissions, which was to expire on 22 February 2002 is repeatedly extended and ends on 30th June 2004.


Furthermore, the establishment of the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism with 210 million US Dollars is resolved. The Federal Law on the Establishment of the General Settlement Fund comes into effect in May. This fund compensates victims of National Socialism by means of individual payments and in rem restitution of publicly owned assets for losses of assets incurred as a result of persecution. The Secretary General of the National Fund, Hannah M. Lessing, is also appointed Secretary General of the General Settlement Fund.


In July, the opportunity to apply to the General Settlement Fund is announced worldwide by means of "Worldwide Notice".


In October and November the two independent decision-making bodies of the General Settlement Fund are established and release their rules of procedure: The Arbitration Panel taking responsibility for in rem restitution, the Claims Committee for the monetary payments of the General Settlement Fund.


The General Settlement Fund commences cooperation with public archives and offices of the Federation and provinces regarding making documents available for the examination of applications. Uniform standards for the processing of applications ("standardized procedure") are developed for the administration of expected mass proceedings for monetary compensation in 120,000 individual claims.


2002

The General Settlement Fund structures its own research system which serves for the investigation of conclusive documents for the uniform understanding of the claims of the applicants.


2003

On 27th January, the Historical Commission submits the documentation of the results of its research, comprising 53 individual reports and the final report, to their commissioners: the Federal Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and the Presidents of the National Council and of the Federal Council.


By the end of 2004, all research results are published in 49 volumes as "Publications of the Austrian Historical Commission" by the publishing house Oldenbourg. On 28th May, the application deadline for monetary payments from the General Settlement Fund expires. By this date, 20,641 applications have been received. In October, the Arbitration Panel grants an application for restitution for the first time and recommends the competent Federal Minister to restitute a property in the first district of Vienna to the heirs of the former owners.


In November, the General Settlement Fund concludes a cooperative agreement with the International Commission for Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). This cooperation comprises the mutual forwarding of applications for compensation of insurance policies to the relevant competent organization. From November, the National Fund commences the payment of a further 1,000 Euro to all people who had already received a lump sum payment on the basis of an application for compensation of withdrawn tenancy rights (second payments).


2004

The General Settlement Fund receives the information on people compensated within the scope of the "Austrian Bank Settlement" in order to avoid repeat compensation of already compensated assets.


The General Settlement Fund introduces an internal reporting body for the further development of application processing and new legal information processing software for the standardized procedure.


2005

Through the announcement of the Austrian Federal Government on the completion of "legal closure", after relevant amendments to the law, the advance payments from the General Settlement Fund, endowed with 210 million US Dollars, can be commenced in December. The payment rates are based on statistical prognoses which estimate the anticipated total of all claims. The functions of the research database of the General Settlement Fund are extended, thus, among other things, simplifying the ordering of files from external archives.


2006

In the summer, an integrated database covering the entire course of the proceedings for the National Fund and the General Settlement Fund is introduced.

In October, the National Fund publishes an online art database which enables people to search in museums and collections of the Federation or the City of Vienna for specific art objects which were seized and which qualify for restitution.

2007

By the end of the year, three quarters of the applications received by the General Settlement Fund have been decided. Furthermore, the archival research and the digital compilation of the case-related documents are able to be completed for the great majority of the remaining applications. Within the scope of the advance payments by the General Settlement Fund, a total of 76 million US Dollars was paid to 9,000 applicants. A total of 2,104 applications have been received by the Arbitration Panel, of which 531 have already been conclusively dealt with.

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