Germany accepting Soviet WWII claims

July 10, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The chairman of The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany has announced that an estimated 80,000 victims of Nazi Germany in the former Soviet Union are now eligible for compensation payments.

Julius Berman

In a letter to The Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Dr Danny Lamm, the Chairman of the Conference Julius Berman wrote:

“I am very pleased to tell you that the Claims Conference has secured a landmark agreement that will enable the first-ever compensation payments to an estimated 80,000 Nazi victims in the former Soviet Union.

Today in negotiations with the Claims Conference, the German government agreed to expand the Hardship Fund to the former Soviet bloc countries, a result that we have long negotiated for. Coming on the eve of our annual board meeting and accompanying events that will mark the 60th anniversary of the first-ever compensation negotiations in 1952, this monumental agreement resonates even more.

This is the first Holocaust-related payment that these victims will ever receive, a long-sought goal of the Claims Conference. This agreement also means that every Jewish victim of Nazism who has not yet received compensation from Germany has received or is now entitled to some form of payment.

The Hardship Fund primarily affects Jews who fled eastward into the USSR ahead of the advancing Nazi army and mobile killing squads known as Einsatzgruppen. For the first time, those who remain today in the countries of the former Soviet Union will be able to apply to this program. Applications will be available as of November 1, 2012. The Claims Conference Hardship Fund has paid more than 350,000 such eligible victims who live outside the former Soviet bloc, and the Holocaust Victim Compensation Fund, established in 2011, pays such victims who live in the 10 former Eastern bloc countries that now belong to the European Union. But the tens of thousands of destitute Holocaust victims in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and elsewhere – who may have fled side-by-side with Hardship Fund recipients – have until now not been recognized.

Dr Peter Ammon, the German Ambassador to the United States, speaks at the Claims Conference

The Fund will be open for applications starting on November 1, 2012. Information will be available in Russian, English, Hebrew and German at www.claimscon.org.

Additional Achievements

I am also extremely pleased to tell you of an additional, very significant achievement that we attained today. Since the establishment of the Central and Eastern European Fund (CEEF) in 1998, the Claims Conference has been strongly advocating to the German government that its monthly payment should be the same as the Article 2 Fund. As of January 1, 2013, the CEEF monthly payments will increase to €300, the same as Article 2.

In addition, the special pensions currently being paid to survivors age 75 or older who were in a ghetto for 3 to 11 months can be paid to any eligible survivor who lived under these conditions, regardless of current age, as of November 1, 2012. The Claims Conference also succeeded in increasing the amount of these pensions to €300 per month, as of January 1, 2013.

The equalization of pension payments will affect approximately 20,000 Holocaust survivors, with the payment amounts increasing from 15 to 33 percent.

Equally important, we also negotiated to reduce the time from 12 to 6 months that victims had to have lived in hiding or under false identity in Nazi-occupied territories in order to be eligible for Claims Conference pensions. This will make up to 5,000 survivors eligible for monthly pensions starting January 1, 2013, affecting primarily survivors persecuted in Hungary, Italy, France, Greece, and Slovakia. This follows a change in the criteria negotiated in November 2011 that reduced the time in hiding or living under false identity from 18 to 12 months.

Finally, all one-time payments from the Claims Conference will be €2,556 as of November 1, 2012. Recipients of payments from the Holocaust Victim Compensation Fund (HVCF) currently receive €1,900; those who have already been paid will receive a supplemental payment while those not yet paid will now receive €2,556.

We reinforced today that the history books are not yet closed on our 60-year endeavor to recognize the suffering of all Jewish victims of Nazism, no matter where they live. Two sisters may have fled into the eastern USSR together, but the one who today lives in the U.S. can receive a payment while the one who stayed in Ukraine until now could not. A measure of justice should be granted based on history, not on present-day geography. It was imperative that we obtain this symbolic payment before it became too late.

The work of the negotiating committee has been tremendous and I am grateful to the efforts of the masterful negotiator Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat as well as the other delegation members that joined him: Rabbi Andrew Baker, Uri Chanoch, Ben Helfgott, Saul Kagan, Roman Kent, Amb. Reuven Merhav, Greg Schneider and Marian Turski. Of course, results of this magnitude are achieved through ongoing discussions and overtures and I particularly want to acknowledge Roman Kent in this regard. Finally, the staff work has been outstanding and our deep appreciation goes to Greg Schneider as well his team of Karen Heilig, Christiane Reeh and Konrad Matschke.

I am very pleased to begin our 60th anniversary board meeting and accompanying events with this dramatic news.”

President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dr Danny Lamm said: “For those survivors who were in hiding or lived with false identities for a period of at least 6 mths will now be entitled to a pension . Secondly any survivor who was in a ghetto for at least three months will now also be similarly entitled .”
Approaches should be made through the Claims conference website which is www.claimscon.org

Comments

5 Responses to “Germany accepting Soviet WWII claims”
  1. Mkk says:

    What the article doesn’t mention is that prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, about 25 million people of the western Soviet Union were deported to behind what would become the front line. That is over 1/4 of the original population of 25 million.

    On another note, in wars it is common for people to flee from enproaching armies. In Belgium, about 4 million fled in 1940 (and soon returned to their homes), in East Prussia and Pomerania millions of German civilians headed for central Germany where there was no fighting, according to one German official there were 18 million refugees by March 1945.

    There is no reason that one type of refugee should be compensated and another should not.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Take it easy Robert.

    Germany was under a regime imposed by the Allies called de-nazification a process which,as such,, did not take the comprehensive run as first designed. There must be a distinction between something initiated by the guilty party and something imposed. This is not to say that Germany today is not a compliant world citizen, but the reparations in terms of balance cannot be seen as complete, comprehensive.
    I have visited Germany on many occasions in the past 40 years and I have sensed on occasions a less than a comprehensive past cleansing. In Austria I had real conflicts with very young uniformed officials who displayed outright anti Semitism. With a name like mine, features that are most definitely NOT of the an arian profile ( so much so that even in Israel I am taken by “experts” for an arab ) germans of all kinds cannot but display their inner feelings at times. I remember once I went to an event in Germany where my full name was on my reserved seat. As I took my seat , a few Germans jumped on me telling me that that seat was not mine, but reserved fo Herr Otto Waldmann. One can imagine how much I loved telling them what I thought of them.

    There were also fairly bumpy stages in the completion of the reparations. What must be said also is that certain former communist countries have created even greater problems with the Shoah survivors practically attempting to STEAL the monetary reparations from the victims. Romania was one of those countries. For decades communist Romania denied Shoah survivors the right dues from Germany. My parents were denied any compensation by the Romanian communist government alocated by Germamny. As my family originated in Northern Transylvania they were part of the German persecutions during the war. The rest of Romanian Jews murdered by the Antonescu regime during the war, some 300,000 souls, were NEVER recognised by the Romanian communst regime. Those who survived the deportations were, again, denied their rights. It was only some EIGHT yers ago that the Romanians have accepted responsibility, through the works of the Elie Wiesel Committee that a ” Final Report” on the Romanian Shoah was accepted by the Romanian officials. Only some ten years ago during his visit to Israel the then Romanian President, Ion Iliescu, a former communist leader, stated quite candidly that Romania was not responsible for any crimes against its Jews during the War. A few days later he came back, apologised for not realising the historical truth.
    Soviet Union also refused to work with West Germany in affording the Jewish victims recognition and compensations in what they called THEIR War for the Defence of the Motherland. Even now, after 1990, Russia puts a very small emphasis on the tragic fate of the Jews during the war.
    I visited a few years ago the Moscow museum of the WWII. It is by far the most impressive museum in the entire world. The Russians have built reconstruction “scenes” of several WWII battles, such as the battle of Stalingrad with built -up scenes of real size buildings , life size people, tanks etc. The Battle of Kursk, the greatest tank battle of the war , has in it real tanks in a scene that takes a huge space etc. Then they built the “scene” of Fall of Berlin, again with real size buildings, tanks soldiers etc.
    Looking for any evidence of the Jewish Shoah in the same museum, after a long search I eventually found in a small vitrine a few objects indicating the Jewish presence, a yellow badge Magen David, a small picture and a sign measuring some 10/4 inches with a text in Russian and English sparing a few sentences about the Jews who perished during the Great War.
    We are now more than TWENTY YEARS after the fall of communism in Europe. Both my parents have passed away and with them the great majority of the Shaoh survivors who have never received any form of recognition. As such for all those dear souls the German recognition, which should have been successfully negotiated by the people we are congratulating today, has been concluded far too late.

  3. Lynne Newington says:

    I’m glad you have acknowledged Angela Merkal, Robert.

  4. Robert says:

    As terrible and unforgiveable as the Shoah was,the Germans have since acted honorably.
    Unlike many European countries where the vast majority of the locals ignored or enthusiastically assisted with the genocide, then went into denial,Germany has taken full and unreserved responsibility for their actions.
    Everywhere in Germany there are signs indicating what happenned.it is worth noting that some Jews survived the war hidden in Berlin.

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