June 12, 2024
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Claims Conference Fights for More Compensation for Holocaust Survivors

On October 14, The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) announced the results of the organization’s most recent negotiations with the German government on behalf of Holocaust survivors. The negotiations resulted in two supplemental payments, each of approximately $1,400 for Jewish Nazi victims eligible for the Hardship Fund. Payments will be made in each of the next two years for a total of $2,800 given to each survivor with payments becoming effective as of December 1.

With so many Holocaust survivors impacted by COVID-19, the Claims Conference understood the importance of meeting the growing needs of this aging population.

Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, Claims Conference special negotiator, stated, “We are steadfast in our commitment to Holocaust survivors. In the face of a devastating global pandemic it was vital to secure larger increases for survivors while also seeking immediate funds to help them through these extremely challenging times.”

“These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiations delegation during these unprecedented times will help our effort to ensure dignity and stability in survivors’ final years,” said Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference. “We must meet the challenges of increasing needs of survivors as they age, coupled with the new and urgent necessities caused by the global pandemic. It will always remain our moral imperative to keep fighting for every survivor.

The pandemic has adversely affected the elderly, and survivors have faced an onslaught of health, emotional and financial hurdles. A significant population of survivors, especially those in the former Soviet Union, live in poverty and the coronavirus has only made their economic situation worse. In fact, as explained by Eizenstat, there are 400,000 Holocaust survivors around the world, and 90% of them live at or below the poverty line, one-third of whom live in Israel. In addition, there are 80,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, and more than 30,000 are living at or near the federal poverty level. These additional funds will assist survivors in battling the dramatic rise of the cost of groceries and other necessities, including personal protective equipment and more.

The Claims Conference estimates that approximately 240,000 survivors will be eligible for these additional payments. The largest populations reside in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.

Eizenstat emphasized that negotiations also resulted in a $36 million increase over last year for social welfare services for Holocaust survivors. Therefore, the total global allocation for 2021 for social welfare services funded by Germany will be over $653 million.

Negotiations yielded agreement from the German government to expand the categories of survivors receiving direct compensation. Specifically, the German government accepted the results of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum regarding “open ghettos” in Bulgaria and the report of Yad Vashem on “open ghettos” in Romania, recognizing 27 specific places as ghettos, enabling survivors who lived in these places to receive compensation payments. Additional restrictions were also lifted, making it easier for survivors to apply for compensation.

The Claims Conference negotiations delegation is composed of Special Negotiator Ambassador E. Stuart Eizenstat; Co-Chair Roman Kent; Holocaust survivor leaders—Ambassador Colette Avital, Sir Ben Helfgott and Marian Turski; Ambassador Reuven Merhav; Rabbi Andrew Baker and Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider. The Claims Conference is a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, and secures material compensation for Holocuast survivors around the world. As a result of negotiations, since 1952 the German Government has paid more than $80 billion in indemnification to individuals from suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis. In 2020, the Claims Conference distributed approximately $460 million in direct compensation to over 60,000 survivors in 83 countries and allocated approximately $610 million in grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide that provide vital services for Holocaust survivors, such as homecare, food and medicine.

For more information, please visit: www.claimscon.org.

By Yvette Finkelstein

 

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