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Austrian citizenship for Jews

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Which Israelis can get Austrian citizenship? Many Austrian Jews escaped the country when it was annexed into the German Reich in 1938. Some Jews managed to survive their imprisonment and attempted extermination until the war ended in 1945. According to the new law, their descendants are also entitled to Austrian citizenship. In this article, attorney Michael Decker will explain all one needs to know on how Jews can obtain Austrian citizenship.

Our law offices specialize in obtaining Austrian citizenship for Jews. If you are a descendant of Holocaust survivors who escaped or left Austria between the years 1933-1955, contact us. Our office can help you obtain an Austrian passport, which brings with it the coveted European citizenship.

Arranging Austrian citizenship for Jews:

According to the new law that takes effect in September 2020, any Jew or descendant of Jews who lived in Austria between the years 1933-1955 is eligible for Austrian citizenship. Unlike the current law, which recognizes descendants of Nazi persecution victims as eligible for citizenship under the condition that their forefathers lived in Austria until 1945, the new law grants Austrian citizenship for years after the war as well. The time period has been extended to account for the large number of orphans, widows/widowers, childless, poor and sick people who remained in Austria after the war and were not able to leave it.

Who can get Austrian citizenship?

Austrian citizenship for JewsThe law applies to Jews and non-Jews who can prove by official documents that they are descendants of victims of Nazi persectuion. These include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who were persecuted.

Another important addition to the new law is the recognition of descendants of female Holocaust survivors – mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers – as eligible for Austrian citizenship, unlike the current law which only recognizes descendants of male Holocaust survivors as eligible.

The process of obtaining Austrian citizenship

If you apply for an Austrian passport, you will be required to prove that your father, mother, grandmother, grandfather etc. was persecuted by the Nazis. Also, you will be asked to present your familial relation to the victim of the Nazi persecution. In addition, you will need to prove the familial relation of partners and children, if they are involved in the application.

Documents for applying for Austrian citizenship:

  • Birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Signed citizenship request form – this includes the detailed life story of the family member who had Austrian citizenship in the past, in addition to their Holocaust survival story. In addition, this form requires information such as army service, career, addresses, etc.
  • Proof of Austrian citizenship at the time of immigration, such as an old Austrian or German passport, certificate of exile, residence certificate, etc.
  • Proof of the date of emigration from Austria.
  • Presentation of the acquisition of citizenship from Israel, USA or any other country.
  • Presentation of a marriage license, divorce certificate, army service, name change, academic certificate, and any other document that can prove connection to the country.
  • It is important to note that there is no cost for submitting the documents to the Austrian authorities. However, they may choose to request additional documents.

Austrian citizenship for Holocaust survivors – important points

  • The new law will also apply to Jews who lived in Austria between the years 1933-1955, but were born in the countries Romania, Moldova, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia or Slovenia.
  • The law does not apply to people who were found guilty of severe criminal offenses, large-scale financial crimes, terrorist acts or crimes that endangered the Austrian democracy.
  • In most cases, Austria does not recognize dual citizenship for its citizens. That being said, Israelis who apply for Austrian citizenship under the new law can keep their Israeli passport as well, without fear of having to give it up.
  • For a comprehensive article on Austrian citizenship for descendants of Nazi persecution, click here.

What does Austrian citizenship provide?

Obtaining Austrian citizenship means, of course, obtaining European citizenship as well – which grants the following advantages:

  1. The option to live and work in the European Union countries.
  2. The option for subsidized or even free studies in leading academic institutions in Europe.
  3. Permission to visit the USA freely without need for a visa or other lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
  4. Purchasing real estate and/or opening a business, including tax benefits and additional advantages.

Are people with a military background eligible for an Austrian passport?

The Austrian law limits applicants with a voluntary military background, meaning Israelis who served in the IDF as an officer or NCO. For such people, the application is slightly more complicated than for Israelis who served only mandatory service in the army, which is known as regular service. However, there have been exceptions in which such people were granted citizenship. (It is worth noting that the Austrian law also applies to voluntary army service in other countries besides Israel.)

Important comment – for applicants who are currently serving or have served in regular army service, there is no limitation on obtaining citizenship. Furthermore, civilians who do regular reserve duty in the army will also face no hindrance.

Our thanks to Mr. Jonathan Gabrielov for his help in writing this article.

Contact our office regarding Austrian citizenship for holocaust survivors

Until the year 1938 — the year Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany (the Anschluss) — some 200,000 Jews lived in Austria. However, following the annexation, thousands of them escaped to Britain, the USA, Israel, and other countries. Today Austria recognizes the injustice suffered by its Jews and grants them or their descendants the right to receive Austrian citizenship again.

Our law offices deal with emigration to Austria and represent the survivors of the Nazi persecution and their descendants in the process of receiving Austrian citizenship. Our offices are located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Schedule a meeting today to find out your rights under the new Austrian law.

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