printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

13122 Austria - Agreement Concerning the Austrian Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation"


   
Share

TREATIES AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ACTS SERIES 13122

 

 

CLAIMS

 

 


Agreement Between the
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
and AUSTRIA


Signed at Vienna October 24, 2000

with

Annexes

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Pursuant to Public Law 89—497, approved July 8, 1966
(80 Stat. 271; 1 U.S.C. 113)—

“. . .the Treaties and Other International Acts Series issued
under the authority of the Secretary of State shall be competent
evidence . . . of the treaties, international agreements other than
treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and
international agreements other than treaties, as the case may be,
therein contained, in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime
jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the
United States, and of the several States, without any further proof
or authentication thereof.”

 

AUSTRIA

Claims

Agreement signed at Vienna October 24, 2000;
Entered into force December 1, 2000.
With annexes.

Agreement
between
the Government of the United States of America
and
the Austrian Federal Government
concerning
the
Austrian Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation"
(Reconciliation Fund)
The Government of the United States of America ("United States")
and
the Austrian Federal Government ("Austria")
Intending to shape relations between their two States in a spirit of friendship and cooperation
for the future and to successfully resolve issues stemming from the past,
Recognizing that Austria has, by adopting legislation approved by the Allied Forces or
building on international agreements to which the United States is a party, and in close
cooperation with victims' associations and interested governments, provided restitution and
compensation to victims of National Socialist persecution,
Noting that, by means of the Austrian Fund for Reconciliation, Peace, and Cooperation
("Fund"), formed under Austrian federal law as an instrumentality of Austria and funded by
contributions from Austria and Austrian companies, Austria and Austrian companies wish to
respond to and acknowledge the moral responsibility for all claims involving or related to the
use of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II,
Understanding that this Agreement does not affect Articles 21 and 26 of the 1955 State Treaty
for the Re-Establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria,
Recognizing that Austrian companies, having contributed to the Fund should not be asked or
expected to contribute again, in court or elsewhere, for any claims asserted involving or
related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II,
Recognizing as legitimate the interest Austria and Austrian companies have in all-embracing
and enduring legal peace with respect to all claims asserted involving or related to the use of
slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II, and further
recognizing that such interest is fundamental to the contribution of Austrian companies to the
Fund,
2
Recognizing that it is in the interests of both the United States and Austria (the "parties") to
have a resolution of these issues that is non-adversarial and non-confrontational, outside of
litigation,
Recognizing that both parties desire all-embracing and enduring legal peace with respect to all
claims asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies involving or related to the use of
slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II, to advance their
foreign policy interests,
Having worked as partners, in consultation with other interested parties and governments to
assist Austria and Austrian companies to achieve wide support for the total amount of funds
and the eligibility criteria of the Fund and for the establishment of all-embracing and enduring
legal peace, with respect to all claims involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor
during the National Socialist era or World War II,
Noting that the Fund will assure broad coverage of victims and broad participation by
companies, which could not be possible through judicial proceedings,
Believing that the Fund will provide as expeditious as possible a mechanism for making fair
and speedy payments to now elderly victims,
Noting that Austria will conclude Agreements with Central and Eastern European countries
representing the majority of victims eligible to receive payments from the Fund to guarantee
smooth and efficient operation of the Fund,
Noting that Austria has coordinated with the Federal Republic of Germany and its Foundation
"Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future" to provide as broad a coverage as possible for
any claims involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist
era or World War II,
Having in mind, that the Fund covers, and that it would be in the interests of both parties for
the Fund to be the exclusive remedy and forum for the resolution of, all claims that have been
or may be asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies involving or related to the use
3
of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II and any other claims
covered by the Fund,
Recognizing that Austria has passed legislation proposed by all political parties represented in
the National Council to establish the Fund,
Have agreed as follows:
Article 1
(1) The parties agree that the Fund covers, and that it would be in their interest for the Fund
to be the exclusive remedy and forum for the resolution of, all claims that have been or
may be asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies involving or related to the
use of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II and any
other claims covered by the Fund.
(2) Austria agrees to ensure that the Fund shall provide appropriately extensive publicity
concerning its existence, its objectives, and the availability of funds.
(3) Annex A sets forth the principles that shall govern the operation of the Fund. Austria
assures that the Fund will be subject to supervision by an Austrian authority; any person
may request that the Austrian authority take measures to ensure compliance with the
legal requirements of the Fund.
(4) Austria agrees to actively and expeditiously continue to pursue discussions with
interested parties, based on an agreed upon framework with such parties, concerning
potential gaps and deficiencies in the restitution and compensation legislation enacted by
Austria after World War II to address aryanization issues during the National Socialist
era or World War II on the territory of present-day Austria with a view to creating, in
agreement with the United States, suitable potential remedies in the meaning of Article 2
paragraph 2 and Article 3 paragraph 3 hereof. The United States Government will
facilitate this process.
4
Article 2
(1) The United States shall, in all cases in which the United States is notified that a claim
described in Article 1 (1) has been asserted in a court in the United States, inform its
courts through a Statement of Interest, in accordance with Annex B, and consistent
therewith, as it otherwise considers appropriate, that it would be in the foreign policy
interest of the United States for the Fund to be the exclusive remedy and forum for
resolving such claims against Austria and/or Austrian companies as defined in Annex C,
and that dismissal of such cases would be in its foreign policy interest.
(2) The United States shall also, in all cases in which Austria, in agreement with the United
States, establishes a suitable potential remedy for other claims against Austria and/or
Austrian companies arising out of the National Socialist era or World War II, file a
Statement of Interest, mutatis mutandis, as described in Article 2 (1).
(3) The United States, recognizing the importance of the objectives of this agreement,
including all-embracing and enduring legal peace, shall, in a timely manner, use its best
efforts, in a manner it considers appropriate, to achieve these objectives with state and
local governments.
Article 3
(1) This agreement is intended to complement the creation of the Fund and to foster all-
embracing and enduring legal peace for Austria and Austrian companies with respect to
any claims involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National
Socialist era or World War II and any other claims covered by the Fund.
(2) This agreement shall not affect unilateral decisions or bilateral or multilateral agreements
that dealt with the consequences of the National Socialist era or World War II.
(3) The United States shall take appropriate steps to oppose any challenge to the sovereign
immunity of Austria with respect to any claim that may be asserted against the Republic
of Austria involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National
Socialist era or World War II and any other claims covered by the Fund, and other claims
5
arising out of the National Socialist era or World War II for which the United States and
Austria agree that a suitable potential remedy has been provided.
Article 4
Annexes A, B, and C shall be an integral part of this Agreement.
Article 5
The Agreement shall enter into force on the date on which the parties agree by exchange of
notes.
DONE at Vienna, the 24th day of October, 2000, in duplicate in the English and German
languages, both texts being equally authentic.
FOR THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE AUSTRIAN FEDERAL
OF THE UNITED STATES: GOVERNMENT:
Annex A
of the Agreement
between
the Government of the United States of America
and
the Austrian Federal Government
concerning
the Austrian Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation"
Principles Governing the Operation of the Fund
Article 1(3) of the Agreement provides that the principles governing the operation of
the Fund will be set forth in Annex A. This Annex reflects key elements of the Fund that form
a basis for the parties' mutual commitments in the Agreement.
The term "Reconciliation Fund legislation" refers to the Federal Law establishing the "Fund
for Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation (Reconciliation Fund)," the commentary adopted
by the Constitutional Committee of the Austrian National Council which were communicated
to the United States, and the by-laws to be established and governing the operation of the
Fund.
1. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will state that the purpose of the Fund is to
provide payments through partner organizations and, where no such partner organization
exists, through the Fund itself, to all those who suffered as slave or forced laborers and to
certain others who suffered during the National Socialist era or World War II on the territory
of present-day Austria.
2. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide for a Board of Trustees that
consists of an equal number of members appointed by the Austrian Government and Austrian
companies and by other governments and victims' representatives, except that the Chairman
shall be the Chancellor of the Republic of Austria. All Fund operations will be transparent and
by-laws and similar procedures will be made public. The Board will adopt by-laws by a
simple majority vote. The by-laws will include a provision that will state that a purpose of the
Fund is to benefit, through projects, the heirs of those who have not survived.
2
3. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that the Fund and all partner
organizations will be audited.
4. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that each person who was forced to
work while under detention in a concentration camp or similar place of confinement under
inhumane conditions ("slave laborer") will receive AS 105,000. The Reconciliation Fund
legislation will also provide that persons who were transported by force or by deception into
work on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria, or who, after a voluntary stay on
the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria, were prevented from returning home and
who were subjected to particularly bad living conditions, and either were subject to
confinement or some other significant limitation of freedom or were deprived of their personal
rights or subjected to particularly severe disciplinary measures, and were forced to work
("forced laborers"), will each receive AS 35,000 if they had to perform forced labor in
industry, business, construction, power companies and other commercial enterprises, public
institutions, rail transportation or postal service, and AS 20,000 if they had to do forced labor
exclusively in agriculture or forestry or exclusively performed personal services work. In
addition, the Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that the Fund will make payments of
AS 105,000, AS 35,000 or AS 20,000 to natural persons who were residents of the territory of
the present-day Republic of Austria and who, because of political motives, reasons of
ancestry, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicap, accusation of
supposed anti-social behavior or in connection with medical experiments, were coerced by the
National Socialist regime to work on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria under
conditions equivalent to those cited above. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will also
provide that persons who were transported as children under the age of 12 with one or both
parents, one or both of whom performed slave or forced labor, onto the territory of the
present-day Republic of Austria, or who were born during their mother's period of slave or
forced labor on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria, will receive payments up
to the amount that their parent(s) are or would have been eligible to receive, i.e., AS 105,000,
AS 35,000 or AS 20,000. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will also provide that persons
who suffered demonstrably severe and lasting physical or psychological damage, due to work
they had to do while performing forced labor on the territory of the present-day Republic of
Austria but do not qualify to receive payments under another category, will be able to receive
up to the amount applicable to their categories, i.e., AS 35,000 or AS 20,000 ("special
hardship"). The by-laws will provide that a payment of up to AS 105,000, AS 35,000 or AS
3
20,000, depending on the circumstances, will be made to all others who can make a credible
claim that they were forced to work on the territory of the present-day Republic of Austria
under conditions similar to those faced by slave or forced laborers as defined in the
Reconciliation Fund legislation, who are not otherwise covered by the Reconciliation Fund
legislation. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will also provide that a supplementary
payment of AS 5,000 will be made to women who, during their time as forced laborers on the
territory of the present-day Republic of Austria, gave birth to children in maternity facilities
for eastern workers or who were forced to undergo abortions.
5. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that slave or forced laborers will
not be able to receive payments for their claims involving or related to their slave or forced
labor during the National Socialist era or World War II from both the Fund and the German
Foundation. "Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future."
6. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that the eligibility for the Fund will
be limited to survivors, or, if the eligible person has died on or after February 15, 2000, then
the heir(s) according to the national law of the person in question.
7. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that all eligibility decisions will be
based on relaxed standards of proof.
8. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will make clear that receipt of payment from
Fund funds will not affect the recipient's eligibility for social security or other public benefits.
There will be no offsets for any prior compensation payments.
9. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that each applicant for a Fund
payment will be required to state that, upon receipt of a payment, he or she will waive any and
all alleged National Socialist era or World War II claims against the Republic of Austria
and/or Austrian companies, as well as against Germany and German companies, involving or
related to slave or forced labor.
10. The bilateral agreements will provide that each partner organization will create an
internal appeals procedure and the Reconciliation Fund legislation will provide that the Fund
will create an internal appeals procedure.
4
11. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will require that the Fund provide
appropriately extensive publicity concerning the benefits that the Fund will offer and how to
apply. The Board of Trustees, in cooperation with the partner organizations, will determine
the form and content of such publicity.
12. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will allow applications to be made to the
partner organizations and to the Fund itself for up to two years after the entry into force of the
Federal Law establishing the "Fund for Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation
(Reconciliation Fund)."
13. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will authorize the Fund and its partner
organizations to receive information from Austrian Government agencies and other public
bodies that is necessary for the fulfillment of their responsibilities, in so far as this is not
contrary to particular statutes or regulations or the legitimate interests of the persons
concerned.
14. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will encourage Austrian companies to open
their archives relating to the National Socialist era and World War II.
15. The Reconciliation Fund legislation will enter into force no later than when the
funds of the Fund are made available to it and the bilateral agreements between Austria and
the Governments of Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the
United States have been signed.
Annex B
of the Agreement
between
the Government of the United States of America
and
the Austrian Federal Government
concerning
the Austrian Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation"
Pursuant to Article 2, Paragraph 1, the United States will timely file a Statement of
Interest and accompanying formal foreign policy statement by the Secretary of State and
Declaration of Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart E. Eizenstat in all pending and future cases,
regardless of whether the plaintiff(s) consent(s) to dismissal, in which the United States is
notified that a claim has been asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies involving or
related to (i) the use of slave or forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II
or (ii) any other claims covered by the Fund.
The Statement of Interest will make the following points:
1. As indicated in the correspondence between the President of the United States
and the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, the President of the
United States has concluded that it would be in the foreign policy interests of
the United States for the Fund to be the exclusive forum and remedy for the
resolution of all claims asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies
involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National
Socialist era or World War II and any other claims covered by the Fund.
2. Accordingly. the United States believes that all claims identified in paragraph
one above should be pursued (or in the event the Fund has been exhausted,
should timely have been pursued) through the Fund instead of the courts.
3. As referred to in the above-mentioned correspondence, dismissal of all claims
identified in paragraph one above would be in the foreign policy interests of
the United States. The United States will recommend dismissal on any valid
legal ground which, under the United States system of jurisprudence, will be
2
for the United States courts to determine. The United States will explain that,
in the context of the Fund, it is in the enduring and high interest of the United
States to support efforts to achieve dismissal of all claims asserted against
Austria and/or Austrian companies involving or related to the use of slave or
forced labor during the National Socialist era or World War II and any other
claims covered by the Fund. The United States will explain fully its foreign
policy interests in achieving dismissal, as set forth below.
4. The United States' interests include the interest in a fair and prompt resolution
of the issues involved in these lawsuits to bring some measure of justice to the
victims of the National Socialist era or World War II in their lifetimes; the
interest in the furtherance of the close cooperation this country has with the
friendly country and trading partner, Austria; the interest in maintaining good
relations with Israel and other Western, Central, and Eastern European nations,
from which many of those who suffered during the National Socialist era or
World War II come; and the interest in achieving legal peace for all claims that
have been or may be asserted against Austria and/or Austrian companies
involving or related to the use of slave or forced labor during the National
Socialist era or World War II and any other claims covered by the Fund.
5. The Fund is an important part of a half-century effort to complete the task of
bringing justice to victims of the Holocaust and victims of the National
Socialist era. The Fund complements prior compensation, restitution, and
pension programs by Austria for acts arising out of the National Socialist era or
World War II.
6. The participation in the Fund not only by the Austrian Government and
companies that existed on the territory of present-day Austria during the
National Socialist era or World War II, but also by companies that did not exist
during the National Socialist era or World War II, as well as Austria's
coordination with the Federal Republic of Germany and its Foundation
"Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future," allows comprehensive
coverage of the claims of slave or forced laborers and certain other victims.
7. Plaintiffs in these cases face numerous legal hurdles, including, without
limitation, foreign sovereign immunity, justiciability, international comity,
statutes of limitation, jurisdictional issues, forum non conveniens, difficulties
of proof, certification of a class of heirs and legal precedent adverse to their
claims. The United States takes no position here on the merits of the legal
claims or arguments advanced by plaintiffs or defendants. The United States
does not suggest that its policy interests concerning the Fund in themselves
provide an independent legal basis for dismissal, but will reinforce the point
that U.S. policy interests favor dismissal on any valid legal ground.
8. The Fund is fair and equitable, based on: (a) the advancing age of the plaintiffs,
their need for a speedy, non-bureaucratic resolution, and the desirability of
expending available funds on victims rather than litigation; (b) the Fund's level
of funding, allocation of its funds, payment system, and eligibility criteria; (c)
the difficult legal hurdles faced by plaintiffs and the uncertainty of their
litigation prospects; (d) the particular difficulties presented by the claims of
heirs; and (e) the commitment of the Austrian government to actively and
expeditiously continue to pursue discussions with interested parties, based on
an agreed upon framework with such parties, concerning potential gaps and
deficiencies in the restitution and compensation legislation enacted by Austria
after World War II to address aryanization issues during the National Socialist
era or World War II on the territory of present-day Austria with a view to
creating, in agreement with the United States, suitable potential remedies
within the meaning of Article 2 paragraph 2 and Article 3 paragraph 3 hereof.
9. The structure and operation of the Fund will assure (or has assured) swift,
impartial, dignified, and enforceable payments; appropriately extensive
publicity has been given concerning its existence, its objectives, and the
availability of funds; and the Fund's operation is open and accountable.
Annex C
of the
Agreement
between
the Government of the United States of America
and
the Austrian Federal Government
concerning
the Austrian Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation"
Definition of "Austrian Companies"
"Austrian companies," as used in this Executive Agreement and the Annexes thereto are
defined as in Section 5 (2) of the legislation establishing the Fund "Reconciliation, Peace and
Cooperation," as follows:
1. Enterprises that, at any given time, had or have their headquarters within the
borders of the present-day Republic of Austria as well as their parent companies
(past or present, direct or indirect), even when the latter had or have their
headquarters abroad.
2. Enterprises situated outside the borders of the present-day Republic of Austria in
which Austrian enterprises as described in Sentence (1), at any given time, had or
have a direct or indirect financial participation of at least 25 percent.
The definition of "Austrian companies" in this Executive Agreement and the Reconciliation
Fund legislation are meant to be identical (as are the words "company" and "enterprise") and
should be interpreted in an identical manner.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.