Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg Thanks Descendants of Nazi Expellees for Regaining Austrian Citizenship

Lifestyle & TravelCulture ♦ Published: February 4, 2024; 15:47 ♦ (Vindobona)

Together with the President of the Jewish Community Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, the Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg presented the new publication "Wir und Österreich - Austria and us". This moving publication tells the stories of 15 descendants of victims of National Socialism who share their memories, feelings, hopes, and expectations in connection with regaining Austrian citizenship.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg took part in the presentation of the publication "Wir und Österreich - Austria and us" in Vienna. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The re-acceptance of Austrian citizenship by the descendants of Nazi expellees was only made possible by a groundbreaking amendment to the Citizenship Act in 2020. This amendment not only underlines Austria's efforts to come to terms with the painful chapter of its history but also enables those affected to re-establish their historical ties to Austria.

Austria has set an important example with this amendment, but it is the people themselves, decades after their families were deprived of their identity and lives, who have decided to take up Austrian citizenship again. This step marks the beginning of a new history, a history with Austria. This decision is not a matter of course and deserves the highest recognition.

In a heartfelt gesture, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg thanked the book contributors, who had traveled from Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, London, New York, and Australia to attend the presentation.

Thousands of people return

The 15 voices represented in the publication are symbolic of the thousands of people who have returned their Austrian citizenship and thus re-established their connection to Austria. So far, over 26,000 people have taken this step. The majority of them received their citizenship at Austrian embassies, consulates general, and cultural forums around the world. These diplomatic representations are often the first contact with "official Austria" for the people concerned.

Each of these people brings with them a unique and painful history and contributes to Austria's cultural diversity. Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasized how important these individual stories are for understanding and coming to terms with the past.

Austria's support for Israel

The presentation of the publication took place against the backdrop of the recent events of October 7, which led to serious tensions in the region. Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasized that Austria stands firmly by Israel's side in these difficult times. This support is not only based on historical responsibility but also on the recognition of Israel as the only democratic, pluralistic constitutional state in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Schallenberg also reaffirmed Austria's commitment to a negotiated two-state solution based on international law. This approach should offer Israelis and Palestinians the opportunity to live side by side in peace and security.

In conclusion, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasized that Israel's security is the top priority and that only a negotiated solution can contribute to guaranteeing this security.

Austrian MFA

Jewish Community Vienna