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The Team – National Fund and General Settlement Fund

When in 1995 the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism was called into being its task consisted in making gesture payments to victims of National Socialism quickly and non bureaucratically. On the other hand, breaching the gap to the survivors of National Socialist persecution in Austria was an essential concern.

In the beginning, this work, which necessitated an equally high scale of personal involvement, was sustained by a team of 12 co-workers. Eight of which were employed fulltime.

Between 1995 and 2005, around 32.000 applications were processed and around 19.000 persons personally visited the National Fund. Those who could not come personally – entitled persons live in 78 different countries – were contacted by phone and beyond that an extensive correspondence was kept up: during the first ten years of the National Fund over 300.000 letters were mailed.

During the course of its activities the National Fund developed to become a central point of reference for survivors of National Socialism and as such was entrusted with subsequent tasks as the further use of non-restitutable "looted art" and the distribution of the so-called looted gold funds. The number of co-workers has increased together with the emergence of the new fields of activity: as in 2001, due to the Washington Agreement, the National Fund was entrusted with the compensation of withdrawn tenancy rights as well as with the administrative support of the to be established General Settlement Fund the team of the National Fund had already reached the number of 39 persons, 16 of which were employed fulltime.

The work of the General Settlement Fund, established in 2001, was especially challenging since the legal basis called for extensive working methods equally affecting the field of resources. The principles of the General Settlement fund established through the Washington Agreement form demanding guidelines for historical and juridical processing of applications: different to the case of the National Fund, a lump sum payment is not provided for – the respective losses are to be considered individually; priorly made compensation payments or restitutions are to be taken into account. All this made the creation of an extensive research system in cooperation with Austrian archives and authorities necessary. Due to the legal guidelines, the processing of the applications is time consuming and work intensive. The compensation payments can be carried out only based on the established individual head loss.

In order to be able to meet the challenges of this complex procedure and to make a quick and efficient completion of these tasks possible, the hiring of further qualified co-workers adding grounded knowledge from diverse fields was necessary. Upon the dawn of the deadline for filing applications, on 28 May 2003, 43 co-workers were working for the General Settlement Fund. During the course of research and processing of applications, in 2006, the number of co-workers reached 149, of which 79 were fulltime employees. In consequence, it was possible to finalize a major part of the application related research and the juridical processing of applications. As of February 2009, all in all 99 co-workers were employed with the General Settlement Fund.

Next to the monetary compensation, which is taken care of by the major part of the co-workers of the Settlement Fund, a team of currently 16 juristically and historically trained referees looks after the responsibilities of the Arbitration Panel for in rem restitution.

Next to the fulfilment of the various tasks of the National Fund, the currently 22 co-workers of the National Fund are also continuing to deal with the administrative support of the General Settlement Fund.