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The Claims Committee of the General Settlement Fund has decided on all applications

Press Release of June 26 2012

On 25th June 2012, the Claims Committee of the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism, established in 2001 on the basis of the Washington Agreement between the USA, Austria and victims' organizations, decided on the last of 20,702 applications. The Claims Committee also amended its Rules of Procedure with regard to the procedure for delivering documents.

"The decision on the last application signifies the conclusion of an important task," said the First President of the National Council Barbara Prammer in her role as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the National Fund and of the General Settlement Fund. "Now the preparations for the closure of the General Settlement Fund can commence. Negotiations on an amendment to the Law in this regard shall be held in the coming months", she added.

The Claims Committee, an independent three-member panel under the chairmanship of Sir Franklin Berman from Great Britain, is responsible for compensating losses of assets suffered in connection with the National Socialist era in Austria. It has decided on around 160,000 claims. "To be able to reach this stage within ten years is an exemplary achievement which has been met with international recognition", stated Sir Franklin, summing up the work of the Committee, to which Jonathan Greenwald as the American nominee and Dr. Kurt Hofmann as the Austrian nominee also belong. "Around 1.5 billion US Dollars and over 100,000 losses and damages were granted official recognition. As only between ten and 20 percent of the actual losses are able to be compensated with the 210 million US Dollars available, the payments from the General Settlement Fund can only be understood as a late gesture of reconciliation", he continued.

Although all applications have now been decided, the work of the Claims Committee is not yet completed: in around 2,200 cases there is still the possibility of lodging an appeal or a petition for the reopening of proceedings. Furthermore, the heirs of approximately 1,000 applicants who died before receiving the closing payment from the General Settlement Fund are being sought. The Claims Committee has been able to trace the heirs of 3,600 deceased applicants, thus concluding these proceedings.

The search for heirs includes making inquiries with the Austrian Pension Insurance Institution, Austrian embassies or victims' organizations, both at home and abroad. In the future, potential heirs will also be sought and contacted using the social network Facebook, which is also used by the older generation.

The amendment to the Rules of Procedure stipulates that in the future, if no delivery address is known, deliveries can be also undertaken through their deposit with the General Secretariat of the General Settlement Fund. Deposits of this kind will be announced on the website of the General Settlement Fund. Care will be taken to preserve the anonymity of the entitled recipients.

In 2001, in order to comprehensively resolve open questions of compensation of victims of National Socialism for losses or damages suffered as a result of or in connection with events having occurred on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria during the National Socialist era, the General Settlement Fund was established by the General Settlement Fund Law and endowed with 210 Million US Dollars. Those losses of assets which had not yet (or only insufficiently) been compensated through previous Austrian restitution or compensation measures were of priority. The categories with the largest number of recognized losses were "professional and educational losses" and "liquidated companies", neither of which had been covered by previous compensation measures.

Inquiries:

General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism
T: (01) 408 12 63
E: presse@nationalfonds.org

Further Links:

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Provenance Research at the Austrian Parliament

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