A Reconciliation Fund, from which compensation is to be paid to people sent to Austria as forced labourers during WWII, has been officially launched in Vienna. There are some 15 thousand Czech citizens eligible for compensation, which they are to start receiving as of February next year.Alena Skodova has the details:
The average sum for each individual is 35 thousand Austrian shillings - over 2000 dollars. Mothers compelled to give birth to their children at special clinics or those forced to have abortions will receive an additional 5 thousand shillings. Also eligible for compensation are children who were deported along with their parents. The chairman of the Fund's administration board, Ludwig Steiner, told reporters that the fund had to act fast, because the forced labour victims are now old people, some of them in a poor state of health.
Unlike a similar fund in Germany, which will initially pay only part of the money, the Reconciliation Fund in Austria will pay the whole sum at one go. The Fund will receive 3.7 billion shillings from the state coffers, 500 million from the individual federal states of Austria and nearly 2 billion from private companies. The sum will be paid out to some 150 thousand people, coming mostly from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The Czech forced labourers alone will receive 501 million shillings.
According to Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, the fund is to start paying out the money in mid-February next year. By that time, all technical details are to be resolved. But compensation from Austria will not be received by those who have already been granted compensation from the German foundation called "Memory, Responsibility, the Future", which mainly concerns those who worked in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
It is estimated that there were some 1 million forced labourers in Austria during WWII, and most money from the Reconciliation Fund will be sent to Ukraine. The fund should be in operation for three years.
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