On 1 September 2020, Section 58c (1a) of the Citizenship Act came into force in Austria. The history of this change in the law is anticyclical to the current conflict-laden, tendentially exclusionary world situation
Section 58c (1a) and (1b) enables the descendants of those persecuted by the Nazi regime to acquire citizenship by notification. It also makes it possible that the history and stories are not forgotten with the death of those directly affected. It acknowledges and takes seriously the injustice that was done and gives the following generations the opportunity to once again consciously deal with family history, with a sense of home and scarred injuries.
This is also the case for me, Veronika Müller Mäder, granddaughter of the Viennese politician and sociologist Ernst Karl Winter, whose critical stance towards National Socialism forced him to emigrate to the USA with his wife Margarete Winter-Svoboda and their seven children before the Anschluss in March 1938.
I am pursuing this possibility of obtaining Austrian citizenship. It touches me. The conversation in the Austrian Embassy in Bern moves something in me
This bill takes up an age-old and ever-present, in many ways extremely difficult and almost insoluble theme, whether in the small personal sphere or on the great political stage of human history: the idea and question of guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation – the search and striving for peace. Paragraph 58c counters the tendencies of the current world situation by trying to create connection in a time of division. Applications for Austrian citizenship come from all over the world, creating an invisible bond of togetherness around the globe. Perhaps a kind of sense of home. The article of law is linked to life stories.
What are these stories that the new citizens bring with them? What is the experience behind them? Who were these people who helped them during their flight, in captivity, in their new phase of life? How did our ancestors manage to gain a new foothold? How can the pain experienced and lived through be resolved, by the generation directly affected, by the descendants?
A film idea is growing.