No More Cash for Nazi Victims until Lawsuits Dropped, Warns Vienna
Victims of Nazi persecution will not receive a penny more in compensation until law suits filed on their behalf in the US against Austria are dropped, Vienna warned Monday.
Austria has already started blanket payments of 7,000 dollars to those surviving whose assets were seized by the Nazis after Austria was annexed to the Third Reich in 1938, and has pledged further cash for individual claims.
In exchange for this package, Washington agreed earlier this year to protect Austria from victims' suits filed in the US for compensation. But according to Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, suits remain to be dropped.
"If people want us to start payments tomorrow, all they need to do is demand of all lawyers to withdraw their suits. This is not our business, it is the business of the Americans and the victims," Schuessel told the Austrian news agency APA.
"We are not putting anything off, we are not delaying anything. We want to get on with it. But I believe it is high time that somebody make clear to those people who have not yet withdrawn their suits, that it's up to you, not us," he said.
In addition to the payments of 7,000 dollars, which will make a total of 150 million dollars, Austria has also put aside 210 million dollars for the purpose of specific claims.
A further 112 million dollars is to be put into a social benefits package for the victims.
Under the deal agreed in Washington in January, the US is obliged to consistently recommend that existing and future compensation law suits against Austria are dismissed, making such cases very difficult for lawyers to pursue -- VIENNA (AFP)
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