Statement Made by the IKG in Vienna in Reaction to the "Letter to the Editor" Submitted by the Austrian Federal Government

Chair of the Israelite Religious Community in Vienna (07/09/03)

Part IV

The points listed by the Austrian Federal Government largely fail to pertain to the IKG. The Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (English: Israelite Religious Community (IKG)) is primarily a religious community and has, moreover, additional work to carry out and special burdens to carry.

The yearly budget of the IKG is broken down into the following categories:
Sector 1: Essential work conducted by a religious community: 7.5 million Euros. From that amount the IKG receives 975,000 Euros from public money (Federal and Regional).
Sector 2: Special financial burden totalling 3.7 million Euros, out of which 1 million Euros go for social priorities; 700,000 Euros for schools, and 2 million Euros for maintaining security. From the total budget amounting to 11.2 million Euros, about 1 million Euros are covered by public funds, 7.5 million Euros by own funds and 2.7 million Euros are considered as the current deficit.
Sector 3: Outsourced institutions consist of Maimonides Zentrum (Home for Parents) with 7.1 million Euros, ESRA (a psychosocial center) with 2.1 million Euros, and ZPC Schule with 1.9 million Euros. These are covered by their own revenues (school tuition, costs for maintenance, etc.).
These deficits are covered by revenues coming from the City of Vienna, a portion from the Federal government and from the IKG.

The IKG is not denying that Austria has made numerous attempts to offer restitution to survivors of the Holocaust. Dr. Muzicant has always emphasized that Schüssel’s government has achieved a great deal in this respect by having created the Reconciliation Fund and the Restitution Fund. Both funds were primarily thought of as providing individual restitution to forced laborers and survivors and relatives of the Holocaust.

The Jewish Community in Vienna possessed considerable wealth before 1938. This was totally aryanized; in other words, destroyed, and after 1945 it was not the least bit restituted nor indemnified. The Jewish Religious Community had to establish itself anew on its own accord by building synagogues and rebuilding the Jewish infrastructure. For the expenses involved the Federal government has refused to work out a solution with the IKG but rather points to the efforts made by having created the Restitution Fund. The Religious Community refuses to accept having an essential part of this Restitution Fund taken away from the individual victims.

As to the issue of current support for the Jewish Community in Austria, the following points need to be emphasized:

Support of Jewish museums in Vienna, Eisenstadt and Hohenems: The Jewish Museum is a museum which belongs to the City of Vienna, whereas the Jewish museums in Eisenstadt and Hohenems belong to private associations.
International projects of the Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria: This organization has its seat in the U.S. and supports worldwide survivors of the Holocaust who are in need and who are former Austrians.
Pensions and care for the disabled and elderly within the context of the Victims Assistance Act (OFG): These are again contributions which are made worldwide to former Austrian survivors of the Holocaust.
Return of art objects from Austrian museums and collections: These art objects are being returned directly to the victims or their heirs.

None of the financial contributions come under the heading of restitution payments to the IKG.