1938 | The “Anschluss” and Austria's special responsibility with its history
2018 marks the celebration of 100 years since the foundation of the Austrian Republic in 1918, and also the 80 years anniversary of a painful and dark moment of our history, the so-called “Anschluss” of Austria to Nazi-Germany, when Hitler’s troops marched into Austria, greeted by cheering masses on the streets. After the end of World War II, the surviving victims of the National Socialism were not provided the recognition they deserved for a long time, and Austria has officially upheld the theory of having been the first victim of Hitler for decades.
However, this finally changed about 20 to 25 years ago, when the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism was established in 1995 to express Austria's special responsibility towards the victims of National Socialism. It renders payments to the victims, in particular to those who had previously received less or no compensation; to those in need of special assistance or those with personal circumstances warrant relief. The years following its establishment have seen the National Fund entrusted with additional tasks in the spirit of remembrance and commemoration.
To commemorate the 80th anniversary in 2018, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism has put together videos containing excerpts from the autobiographical testimonies of some of the Nazis’ victims. This life story collection currently includes over 120 memoirs written by applicants to the National Fund and the General Settlement Fund in both English and German languages.
Additional information about the National Fund’s project as well as its background can be found in an article published in the Austrian Information magazine of the Austrian Embassy on the occasion of its 20-years-anniversary in 2015.
Another important fund established by the Republic of Austria with the aim of taking further responsibility and sending a signal of acknowledgement was the creation of the Future Fund in December 2005. The Fund subsidizes scientific and pedagogical projects which foster tolerance and mutual understanding on the basis of a close examination of the sufferings caused by the Nazi regime on the territory of present-day Austria. In the last 10 to 15 years, the number of applications has been constantly rising, while the average funding amount was 27,000 Euros in 2006, it decreased to 9,000 Euros per project in the last few years, owing to the high number of applications.
Further information about the Future Fund as well as its background can be found in an article published in the Austrian Information magazine of the Austrian Embassy on the occasion of its 10-years-anniversary in 2015/2016.
Thus, these Funds mentioned here play an important role as one of our main targets for future generations, as a reminder in keeping alive the memory of the victims, as well as human rights education, and the strengthening of democratic values.