Parliament agreed Wednesday to start paying out hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) in compensation to Holocaust survivors once the last related case against Austria in a U.S. court is settled or dropped. Parliament created the General Settlement Fund in 2001 to compensate Holocaust victims who were robbed of businesses, property, bank accounts and insurance policies during the Nazi era. The government and Austrian companies earlier this year pledged to pay US$210 million (nearly Ђ167 million) to endow the fund once all court cases against Austria relating to the Holocaust were resolved. But on Wednesday, parliament agreed to speed up the procedure and start payments even before all applications were fully processed, once the last U.S. court case was resolved.
In the one court case is still pending - Whiteman vs. Austria - Holocaust victims are suing Austria for artworks taken from them during the Nazi era.
Members of Vienna's Jewish community, the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, earlier this year agreed to withdraw 770 applications for compensation and its friend-of-the-court status in the Whiteman vs. Austria case, the AP reports.
Vienna was home to a vibrant Jewish community of some 200,000 before World War II. Today, it numbers about 7,000. A.M.