As a signatory to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951, Austria agreed to give refugees the same treatment as other foreigners resident in the country. In some respects, they could enjoy the privileges of Austrian citizens. They had legal standing before Austrian courts and rights to mandatory public education and Austrian travel documents. A general law of citizenship passed in 1965 privileged refugee requests for this status over those coming from other foreigners applying for naturalization. Unlike in Germany and Italy, however, the Austrian constitution did not guarantee the right of asylum in and of itself.
   Austria played a key role in the movements of two significant refugee groups. Large numbers of Hungarians crossed their western border following the failed uprising there against Soviet Communism in 1956. Temporary housing for many of them was primitive, to say the least. Nevertheless, the Austrian government, and private refugee organizations that gave significant assistance, successfully relocated these people throughout Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Many Hungarians stayed in Austria itself and found rewarding careers in a broad range of occupations.
   A second wave of refugees that made Austria a target were Jews, who left the Soviet Union in large numbers during the 1970s and early 1980s. Housed at first in the castle of Scan, and then at a camp in Wöllersdorf in Lower Austria, they were generally in transit to Israel and, to a lesser extent, the United States. A number settled in Vienna, however, especially in the second district, the Leopoldstadt, the traditional Jewish quarter of the modern city. The unrest in east central, southeastern, and eastern Europe that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 brought unusually large and disorganized numbers of political and economic refugees to Austria. Under great popular pressure, especially from the Freedom Party of Austria led by Jörg Haider, the parliament passed a law regulating the conditions under which asylum was granted on 1 June 1992. Anyone seeking political asylum had to apply for the privilege one week after crossing the Austrian border. Those who came to Austria from a so-called safe country, that is, a politically free one, were to be returned to that country. Failed applicants for asylum were to be deported immediately without appeal.
   See also Law of Residence.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.


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