Government Compensation Bodies:

National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism (Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus)

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Title
National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism (Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus)

Description
The National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism was established in 1995 on the basis of the Federal Law on the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism (Bundesgesetz über den Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus) of 1 June 1995. The payments (a lump sum of 70,000 Austrian Schilling per claimant) are not to be understood as reparations, but as a symbolic gesture by the Federal Republic of Austria which thereby takes responsibility for the participation of Austria in Nazi persecution. To date c. 30,000 people have received payment from the Fund. There is no deadline for applications.

In 2001 the National Fund was allocated US $150 million as part of the measures agreed in the Joint Statement (17 January 2001) by the Governments of the Republic of Austria and the United States of America, Austrian companies, the Claims Conference (including the Central Committee of Jews from Austria in Israel and the American Council for Equal Compensation of Nazi Victims from Austria), and the Austrian Jewish Community which also led to the setting up of the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism (Allgemeiner Entschädigungsfonds für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus) in 2001.

 

As regards looted art, the National Fund provides information and claimant referral and assists in implementing the 1998 Federal Act on the Restitution of Artworks from Austrian Federal Museums and Collections.   


On 17 October 2006 the National Fund launched an Art Database at
www.kunstrestitution.at in German.  An English version of the Art Database was launched on 3 July 2007 at www.artrestitution.at.  The Art Database provides detailed information and images of “heirless” objects of art and objects of cultural value which are likely to have been expropriated in Austria during National Socialism and which then became public property.

The Art Database is designed to enable victims of National Socialist art theft worldwide to search the museums and collections of the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna for seized objects eligible for restitution.  It contains a catalogue organized according to categories with currently some 8,500 objects of art which are located in museums and collections of the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna.  The inventory is continuously updated.  Each object is described in detail and with an image where possible, and there is information on the restitution procedure. Most of the published objects are subject to art restitution procedures and claimants who have identified art objects may claim them with the assistance of the National Fund.

Where identification does result in specific claims, claimants are referred to the Commission for Provenance Research at the Federal Office of Historical Monuments (Bundesdenkmalamt) where their claims are processed. The National Fund also assists the Commission for Provenance Research by searching for heirs in its databases and asking them to contact the Commission.

The 1998 Federal Act on the Restitution of Artworks from Austrian Federal Museums and Collections states that objects which cannot be returned because the original owners or their heirs cannot be identified are to be handed to the National Fund. Following the example of the 1996 Mauerbach sale, the National Fund may put them up for auction, the proceeds of which would be utilised in accordance with the Fund's aims (see above).  For more information on the Mauerbach sale, please see the articles by Josefine Leistra and Hector Feliciano in Spoils of War 3 (1996).

 

Further information on the activities of the National Fund is available in German and English on the National Fund's website.  

Contact Information
National Fund
Parlament
Dr. Karl-Renner-Ring 3
A-1017 Vienna
Tel: +43 (0)1 408 12 63
Fax: +43 (0)1 408 03 89
Email: sekretariat@nationalfonds.org
http://www.en.nationalfonds.org/
in German and English

Source
<http://www.en.nationalfonds.org/>, accessed 6 July 2007.

National Fund Press Release Art Database 4 July 2007 (contact: presse@nationalfonds.org)

Restitution Report 2000/2001: Third Report from the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Culture to the National Council regarding the restitution of works of art from Austrian federal museums and collections (Restitutionsbericht 2000/2001: Bericht der Bundesministerin für Unterricht und kulturelle Angelegenheiten an den Nationalrat über die Rückgabe von Kunstgegenständen aus den Österreichischen Bundesmuseen und Sammlungen), 6 <http://www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/8284/Restitutionsbericht_00_01.pdf>, accessed 6 July 2007.

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