In his closing remarks the Chairman of the Claims Committee, Sir Frank Berman, expressed Claims Committee’s hope that
through its work and, indeed, its very existence it had in its own way made a contribution towards creating an atmosphere of reconciliation, and perhaps even towards healing wounds of the past.
It was not possible to present the report without feeling a degree of emotion, which arises not out of satisfaction at the fulfilment of a task, but rather out of the nature of the task itself, Berman continued.
To have contributed, over a period of some 15 years, to the construction, and then the successful operation, of a system for addressing intolerable past injustice is a moral activity, felt equally strongly to be so by all of those involved.
The Claims Committee had been aware from the very outset that 'monetary payment could never in itself make good for gross injustice'. Instead, the main purpose of the General Settlement Fund was
to make it known that here was a body that would listen to claimants, hear their stories, and offer them some form of official acknowledgement of their suffering.
The Final Report spans more than 700 pages and documents the work of the Claims Committee, in particular the importance of the Washington Agreement in dealing with Austria’s Nazi past, the many and varied aspects that had to be taken into consideration during its implementation, and the procedure and the high procedural standards applied in it. In September 2015 the Final Report was submitted to the Fund’s Board of Trustees and then, subsequently, to the Main Committee of the National Council as stipulated by the General Settlement Fund Law. Preparations are currently underway to publish an edited version of the Final Report with an English translation in book form. A brief overview of the Final Report containing the most important results, statistics and figures is available on the General Settlement Fund’s website.
The General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism was established in 2001 as a comprehensive solution to open questions of compensation for victims of National Socialism for losses and damage that were incurred as a result of or in connection with events that took place on the present-day territory of the Republic of Austria. The Fund has the task of compensating losses that were not, or only insufficiently, accounted for by previous restitution and compensation measures.
More information on the work Frank and the Committee has done can be found on the General Settlement Fund's website.
The Faculty of Law is proud to report this incredible work of one of our Visiting Professors.