Austria to offer passports to Holocaust victims’ children and grandchildren, Sebastian Kurz confirms

It is apparent many still have strong ties to Austria, Chancellor tells JC


Austria is to make an unprecedented change to its nationality law allowing for the children and grandchildren of Holocaust victims to reclaim Austrian citizenship.

The move to allow dual citizenship to Holocaust victims’ descendants — which is currently not possible — was confirmed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in an exclusive interview to be published in next week’s JC.

“What we want to do is to give all children and grandchildren of Holocaust victims the opportunity to become Austrian citizens if they want to,” he said.

In the interview, to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Mr Kurz also defended his decision to enter into coalition with the far-right Freedom Party and said his country’s embassy would not move to Jerusalem before a political solution has been found.

At present, only former Austrian citizens who were forced to leave before the end of the Second World War because of Nazi persecution or for supporting the democratic Republic of Austria can claim back their stolen citizenship.

Such individuals are not required to be permanent residents in Austria, nor do they have to renounce the citizenship of the country they escaped to.

Until now this route was only open to the victims themselves, not their descendants.

Austrian law takes a strict of view of dual nationality, generally permitting it only to persons who automatically obtained two citizenships at birth.

But the change proposed by the Austrian government, led by Mr Kurz since December 2017, would extend the right to Holocaust victims’ descendants.

Mr Kurz said that he was happy that some second and third-generation Holocaust survivors had already expressed an interest in reclaiming Austrian citizenship.

“It is apparent that many still have strong ties to Austria and perhaps also that they have found peace with the country where their parents or grandparents were born, lived, but also had terrible experiences and had to leave,” Mr Kurz said.

The process for amending the law has begun, although there is no implementation date has yet been announced.

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