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Austria to grant citizenship to descendants of victims of Nazism

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FILE PHOTO: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz rekindles the eternal flame during a Holocaust commemoration, Jerusalem, June 2018
FILE PHOTO: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz rekindles the eternal flame during a Holocaust commemoration, Jerusalem, June 2018 -
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Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters
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Descendants of victims of Nazism who fled the country under Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich will now be eligible for citizenship under a new law voted on Thursday by Austria's parliament.

So far only Holocaust survivors themselves could obtain Austrian nationality.

MPs voted by a broad majority for new legislation proposed by Sebastian Kurz's conservative-far-right coalition government before it was deposed in a corruption scandal in May.

Under the new law, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who fled the Nazis can apply for citizenship.

Descendants of nationals from other countries of the defunct Austro-Hungarian empire are also eligible.

Vienna's Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch welcomed "a decision that puts Austria in line with its historic responsibility".

Kurz's People's Party made several diplomatic gestures to Israel in the 18 months it governed together with junior coalition partner, the far-right Freedom Party. Both parties are engaged in a campaign for national elections on September 29.

Under a special regime, Vienna, which does not normally recognise dual citizenship, will grant passports without the need to reside in Austria or give up a previous nationality.

Austrian officials said second and third-generation relatives, particularly those with British nationality, had expressed interest in applying for citizenship of the EU country as Brexit looms.