Jewish refugee crisis during and after World War II
After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938 and particularly after the so called Kristallnacht pogroms of November 1938 Jewish refugees were on the run. Between March 1938 and September 1939 about 85,000 Jewish refugees reached only the United States between March 1938 and September 1939. During and after World War II, many Jews also emigrated to South America for refuge, mainly Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico.
The end of the war in Europe was not the end, it was the beginning of the suffering for millions of people left homeless by the war, released from captivity or facing acts of vengeance.
When these refugees arrived in their new countries the situation was very difficult and harsh for most of them. Hence, most of them applied for the citizenship of the particular country to survive and to get work. The effect of this application in general was that these immigrants lost their Austrian citizenship.
Forced to flee by the Nazis, Re-acquisition of Austrian Citizenship, Declaration based on Sec. 58c of the Austrian Nationality Act
All former Austrian citizens who were forced to leave Austria before May 9, 1945 because they had to fear or even suffered persecution by the NSDAP and/or the authorities of the Third Reich or they had to fear or suffered persecution because of defending the democratic Republic of Austria may re-acquire their Austrian citizenship by declaration. Neither permanent residence in Austria nor renouncing present citizenship are required.
By virtue of a 1999 amendment to the Austrian Nationality Act it is possible for persons who meet the above-mentioned criteria (lived in Austria and had to flee the country) and who were not Austrians but citizens of successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to also become Austrian Citizens.
Thus, the general residence requirement may also be waived by the authorities (Austrian Citizenship Act) if the applicant was:
- a victim of the Nazis and
- a citizen of one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and
- had his/her main residence in Austria prior to 9th May 1945.
Hence, regarding Jewish people who were forced to flee by the Nazis it is easier to receive/recover citizenship, nevertheless there are several requirements to meet. So e.g. it is necessary that the relevant ancestor has not taken on a foreign citizenship voluntary. If this ancestor has never lost her/his Austrian citizenship it is possible that he/she transferred the citizenship by descent to the children.
Strong ties to Austria, More applications for Austrian citizenship from all over the world, New developments in 2018
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed in an interview published in TheJC in November 2018 that it is planned to offer passports to Holocaust victims’ children and grandchildren. This change proposed by the Austrian government would extend the right to Holocaust victims’ descendants to realize Austrian citizenship.