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Shofar FTP Archive File: places/austria/press/compensation-vote-95

 Austria deputies to debate fund for Nazi victims
    By Steve Pagani
    VIENNA, June 1 (Reuter) - Austria's parliament votes on
 Thursday night to set up a fund for thousands of victims of
 dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi rule, ending decades of appeals for
 compensation which critics say will come 50 years too late.
    The Austrian government plans to compensate an estimated
 22,000 to 25,000 people thrown into concentration camps because
 they were Jews, communists or homosexuals and those who fled
 into exile to avoid persecution.
    The fund was intended for Austrians hounded from the 1938
 annexation of Austria by the Third Reich to the end of World War
 Two and who now live abroad. Austrians who returned after 1945
 have received some compensation.
    Leftist opposition politicians have branded the delay a
 national disgrace and fiercely criticised recent government
 indecision on introducing a bill on the fund to parliament.
    The ruling coalition of Social Democrats (SPOe) and the
 conservative People's Party (OeVP) infuriated opposition
 deputies after failing to fulfill a pledge to establish the fund
 by April 27, the day Austria celebrated the 50th anniversary of
 the end of World War Two.
    The coalition parties have ruled Austria separately or
 together since 1945.
    ``It may sound hard but it seems the government has been
 waiting for the biological end of the people -- the victims are
 all getting old,'' Green party spokesman Stefan Schennach said.
    After weeks of politicial wrangling, the government has
 proposed endowing the fund with 500 million schillings ($50
 million) for the thousands still living. The Greens said the
 amount was risible.
    ``The fund is already 50 years too late and now the amount
 of money being offered is unacceptable,'' Schennach said.
    ``It is not a very good end to history,'' he added.
    Parliament headed into a late afternoon debate, with a a
 vote expected some hours later.
    The bill states that people persecuted under the Nazi regime
 because of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation
 or physical handicap would be eligible for cash.
    After public outrage, the government bowed to demands to
 include people victimised because they were homosexuals or
 handicapped and people subjected to medical experiments.
    Far-right leader Joerg Haider has opposed the bill, arguing
 that the cash should only go to victims who were poor. He has
 also called for compensation for Austrian soldiers who were
 imprisoned by the Allies while fighting for Hitler's army.
    The president of Vienna's Jewish community, Paul Grosz, said
 he reserved judgment on the fund because the bill contained many
    ``I cannot view this as a victory. You have to be very
 optimistic to believe that the expectations of the victims will
 be satisfied by this law,'' he told Reuters.
    Grosz said the bill did not specify how much money each
 person would receive, nor did it address the question of whether
 former victims could apply for extra cash in special
    Only a few hundred of the 300,000 Jews living in Vienna
 before 1938 managed to survive by the time Soviet troops
 captured the city in April 1945.

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