Austrian government to compensate Czech forced labourers

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The Czech and Austrian authorities are to sign an agreement concerning financial compensation for Czechs who were used as forced labourers in Austria during the Second World War. Beatrice Cady reports:

The Austrian government has agreed to give Czech forced labourers compensation totalling 501 million Austrian schillings (about 1,3 billion Czech crowns or 30 million USD). Up to sixteen thousand Czechs should benefit from this measure.

According to the agreement, there were three categories of forced labourers: the first category, prisoners of concentration camps, will receive 105,000 schillings per person ( 273,000 Czech crowns or around 6,825 USD). The second category, industrial workers, will be granted 91,000 Czech crowns per person (2,300 USD), and the third category, agricultural workers, will receive around 52,000 Czech crowns (around 1,300 USD). About 75% of Czech forced labourers belonged to the second category, as they were employed in Austrian industries.

However, this measure will not take into account a number of Czechs who did actually work in Austria during the war, but went voluntarily, hoping for better wages and larger food rations.

The main negotiator on the Czech side, the head of the Department for Central European Affairs at the Czech Foreign Ministry, Jiri Sitler, told journalists that he was very satisfied with the measures taken by the Austrian government. He added that after the signature of the agreement, the money would be transferred at once to a Czech fund specially created to deal with this compensation.

The date for the official ratification of the agreement remains unknown, and depends entirely on the Austrian authorities. It could take place at the beginning of October, and in this event the money would be transferred by the end of the year.

Apart from the Czech Republic, Poland will also receive a compensation of 550 million schillings, about 2.5 million USD, for its 21,000 forced-labourers. The Poles are to receive a smaller allowance per person than the Czechs. Indeed, during the war, the Poles mostly worked in agriculture, whereas the Czechs were often more qualified to carry out industrial work.

Author: Beatrice Cady
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