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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 15:38 GMT
Austria 'slow to correct Nazi past'
Urns of Nazi child victims
Euthanasia was one issue dealt with in the report
A wide-ranging report commissioned by the Austrian Government on stolen property during the Nazi era says Austria's record on restitution has been half-hearted and slow.

The 14,000-page report compiled over the past four years is an attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of looted assets and property under the Nazis.

The report by the historical commission says it is impossible to give an exact figure as to the amount of assets confiscated during the Third Reich in Austria.

But it chronicles the thousands of Jewish banks, businesses, real estate, personal property and other assets which were seized.

Public debate needed

The report says the majority of those affected were Jews, but it also deals with ethnic minorities, the Roma, euthanasia victims, homosexuals, and people forced into slave labour.

The report says it is not correct to say that Austria did nothing to compensate people for their losses or suffering.

But it concludes Austria did too little to right the wrongs after World War II.

"Steps towards restitution and compensation were often half-hearted and sometimes utterly reluctant, undertaken all too often only because of outside pressure, especially from the Allies," the report says.

Austria, it says, has too often hidden behind the excuse that it was the first victim of Nazi aggression.

The head of the Jewish community in Austria, Ariel Muzikant, welcomed the publication of the report.

It showed that hundreds of thousands of Austrians - not just bad Germans - were involved, he told the BBC.

And he said it had to be the basis for a wide-ranging public debate on a chapter of Austrian history which had been sidelined for too many years.

This is the view of the report's authors. They stress that their work does not draw a line under Austria's preoccupation with its Nazi past.

They hope that further and deeper research will follow.

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