18 November 2010
The parliament of Austria has passed a bill to provide US$ 27 million in federal funds for restoring Jewish cemeteries over the next 20 years. The move ends years of disagreement over who should pay for much-needed preservation efforts for the burial places of a once vibrant Jewish community which was decimated during the Holocaust. The bill foresees annual government stipends of US$ 1.4 million into a special fund over the next two decades. The country's Jewish community will supplement the government's grant each year with the same amount. The measure, which takes effect in 2011, also asks local municipalities where Jewish cemeteries are located to maintain them for at least 20 years after they have been restored.
Ariel Muzicant, president of Jewish Community Vienna, welcomed Wednesday's vote, which followed a government pledge to provide funds last year. "I'm overjoyed and satisfied that a way has been found to save such an important cultural heritage," Muzicant told the ‘Associated Press’. In total, there are 61 Jewish cemeteries in Austria. An estimated 65,000 Austrian Jews perished in the Shoah, and many others fled during and after Nazi rule. In 1938, about 192,000 Jews lived in Austria, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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