Austria to permit thousands of Israelis to receive citizenship

Israelis whose relatives fled Austria due to Nazi persecution will be able to obtain Austrian citizenship as of next month.

Tens of thousands of Israelis, whose relatives fled Austria due to Nazi persecution, will be able to obtain Austrian citizenship free of charge starting next month, Ynet reported on Sunday.

The Austrian Ambassador to Israel, Hannah Liko, confirmed the news, adding the service will be free of charge.  The announcement comes after the Austrian parliament unanimously approved last September an amendment to the Citizenship Law, which allows Holocaust survivors and their descendants to obtain Austrian citizenship without relinquishing their current one.

The amendment is part of an effort by the Austrian government and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to reconcile with those who had suffered under the country’s Nazi regime from 1938 until the end of World War II in 1945.

Previously, only the survivors themselves were entitled to receive the citizenship. Furthermore, citizenship was offered only to those who left Austria before 1945.

The new law applies to anyone who was a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or lived in Austria before March 12, 1938, the date the Third Reich annexed the country.

Israelis interested in an Austrian citizenship can start the process by answering an online questionnaire on the website of the Austrian Embassy in Israel. Applicants will receive detailed instructions for the documents they must submit to the Austrian embassy in Israel starting September 1.

So far, at least 1,500 Israelis have contacted the embassy and expressed interest in filling out the declaration in order to receive an Austrian passport, according to Ynet.

Kurz has expressed support for Israel in the past and has spoken out against Iran’s leaders who have called for Israel’s destruction.    Kurz has also pledged to make “combating anti-Semitism in all its forms” a top priority.  In 2018, he condemned the rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israeli territory and stressed his country’s commitment to Israel.

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