AUSTRIA - Austrian Citizenship Made Easier for Jews

Arno Froese

Caroline Wellbery’s father, the late German literary scholar Egon Schwarz, fled Austria with his family after the Nazis annexed the country in 1938, when he was 15. Schwarz ended up studying in the United States and then teaching at Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis.

His escape was “a deeply life-changing event for him, and it permeated our household for the entirety of our lives,” said Wellbery, a physician and medical educator at the Georgetown University School of Medicine who lives in Maryland.

Schwarz didn’t feel animosity toward the nation that had ousted him, Wellbery said. Still, he always had a desire to reconnect with his ancestral roots.

Now Wellbery is trying to do that for him by applying for Austrian citizenship under a new amendment to the country’s citizenship law.

“It seems like there was a wish to bring the story to some kind of closure, and that is part of why I am interested in pursuing this,” she said. 

It applies not only to citizens of Austria proper and successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, but also to stateless persons who had a primary residence in Austria but had to leave for safety by May 15, 1955, a decade after the war ended. 

Interest is high, says attorney Daniel Gros of Vienna, who is hearing from “friends of friends” all over the world—but especially from the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. 

There is a special twist for British Jews who were not thrilled about Brexit, he added: They will be able to have both British and EU passports, the latter being extra valuable for travel throughout Europe once the U.K. fully severs ties with the EU.

Zeev Maayan, 33, is an Israeli who has successfully applied for Portuguese and Hungarian citizenship based on his ancestry in both countries. He’d like to add Austria to that list. 

“In Israel, getting a foreign citizenship is like a national sport,” he said. “People want to have other options. It also upgrades you socially, and you can travel in certain countries without worrying.”

-www.jta.org, 1 September 2020

Arno's commentary

People who travel internationally gain tremendous advantage over others who travel less. For Israelis it is very important, for they are the most internationally traveled people in the world.

Life expectancy in Israel, according the CIA Factbook, stands at 83 years. Infant mortality is 3.3 per 1,000 live births. These figures compare favorably with the USA, where life expectancy is 80.3 years, and infant mortality at 5.3 per 1,000 live births. Important to emphasize is that Israel is a relatively new nation and threatened with destruction from a number of countries, primarily Iran. To attain such fantastic statistics is nothing short of miraculous. 

Moses writes about Israel’s future in Deuteronomy 15:6: “For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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