The Austrian parliament has amended the 2019 Citizenship Act to correct “inequalities” faced by descendants of Nazi victims who fled the country under Hitler’s Third Reich.
The legislation came into effect last September allowing descendants of up to three generations of victims of Nazi persecution to reclaim an Austrian passport in a simplified process.
However, the amendment passed unanimously Thursday night had to be brought in to remedy “unacceptable differences in the treatment” of the descendants under the 2019 act, member of parliament Sabine Schatz said in a statement.
“When the act came into force, inequalities were noted that have been corrected,” she added.
Political expert Barbara Serloth, who was involved in the amendment project, told AFP that descendants of people “killed by the Nazis”, for example in Mauthausen concentration camp, were not eligible.
Nor were descendants of those who committed suicide or had citizenship of a country other than the nations of the former Austro-Hungarian empire.
MP Martin Engelberg cited cases of people who could not meet the requirements because their grandmothers had lost their Austrian nationality when they married and moved to a different country.
The women may have lost their nationality “deliberately”, he said, but that was “to escape persecution”.
The amendment also takes into account descendants of survivors who decided not to return to Austria after Hitler took power in 1933, for fear of persecution.
The 2019 act saw 16,200 people take Austrian nationality in 2021, an 80 percent increase in the numbers compared to the previous year — and half of them were descendants of victims of the Nazis.
Some 16 percent of the naturalisations were Israelis, 10 percent Americans, and seven percent British.
Until 2019, only Holocaust survivors themselves could obtain Austrian nationality.