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Austria recognises 'anti-socials', 'career criminals as Nazi victims

AFP
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Austria recognises 'anti-socials', 'career criminals as Nazi victims
A man walks through the main gate of the former Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen, northern Austria on April 28, 2015. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria's parliament on Wednesday decided unanimously to recognise concentration camp inmates who were persecuted by the Nazis for being considered 'anti-social' or 'career criminals' as victims of National Socialism.

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During the Nazi era, people who had served a prison sentence of more than six months were persecuted as "career criminals" or "anti-social", with many of them deported to concentration camps.

After World War II, these victims of Nazi persecution were not entitled to an official certificate or a victim's identification card.

"With this amendment, we are righting a wrong," said parliamentary rapporteur Eva Blimlinger of the Greens.

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"Namely that in 1947, convicted people were excluded from compensation laws," she said, adding that the amendment was "only a symbolic act" as there are no known survivors.

According to a study by DOeW resistance archive centre -- which is due to be made public in early July -- 885 Austrians who fell under that collective category were deported to the Mauthausen camp.

On Wednesday, MPs were reminded of the case of Alfred Gruber, a Viennese convicted of burglary in 1936.

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Although Gruber had served his sentence and had not reoffended, he was deported after Austria was annexed by the German Third Reich in 1938 and "the stigma continued after the end of the war", recalled Social Democrat MP Sabine Schatz.

Among the victims were also "homosexuals, political opponents and simple defenders of democracy", said liberal MP Fiona Fiedler.

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In 2020, Germany adopted a similar law, estimating that "at least 70,000 people" could be affected.

Homeless people, beggars, migrant workers and alcoholics were also targeted in Nazi persecution.

Austria -- the birthplace of Adolf Hitler -- long cast itself as a victim of Nazism and has only in the past decades begun to seriously examine its role in the Holocaust.

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