Austrians think Jews exploit Shoah

NEW YORK — Nearly 50 percent of Austrians oppose their government's decision to compensate Holocaust victims, according to a new poll.

But there are also indications in the poll, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, that an increasing number of Austrians are acknowledging their country's role in the Holocaust.

In the survey of 2,000 Austrians older than 14 years old, 45 percent disapprove of their government's decision in January to establish a $310 million compensation fund for Austrian victims of the Holocaust. Thirty-eight percent approve of the move.

In addition, the same percentage of respondents believe that Jews are exploiting Nazi horrors for their own gain. Again, 38 percent disagreed with this statement.

Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, said the polling results showed no real surprises, given what he called the high rate of anti-Semitism in Austria.

"The key is education and polls such as these [that] demonstrate the extent of the anti-Semitism in Austria and elsewhere," he said.

An official at the Austrian Consulate in New York declined comment, saying he had not read the poll's results.

But not all of the results painted such a dark portrait of anti-Semitism in Austria.

Forty-five percent concede that Austria was "also responsible, as a participant, for the events up to 1945." That figure markedly increased since a 1995 poll, when 29 percent of respondents held that opinion. The AJCommittee conducted its first poll of Austrian attitudes in 1991.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. The survey can be viewed on the Web at

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