Holocaust survivor
A Holocaust survivor protesting in Jerusalem in 2007. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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The Claims Conference Monday reached a landmark decision to increase survivor homecare funding over the next three years by a total of $ 564 million.

German and Israeli representatives flew in for the conference in New York, chaired by Julius Berman, that addressed the growing social welfare needs of Holocaust survivors throughout the world.

Under the new agreement, in 2012 the German government will provide €126.7 million (approximately $177 million) for homecare funding; in 2013, €136.7 million (approximately $191 million); and in 2014, €140 million (approximately $196 million). This totals €403 million (approximately $564 million).

The 2012 figure is a 15-percent increase over the amount negotiated for 2011. The money will be distributed to various agencies worldwide to provide survivors with in-home nursing and assistance in day-to-day activities. The hope is that through providing at-home care, Holocaust victims will be able to remain living at home in spite of difficulties associated with old age.

The conference negotiated an increase in pension payments to survivors. It was also decided that while previously a minimum of 18 months incarceration in a Nazi-era ghetto was the criteria for receiving payments, the German government will now review individual cases and determine based on hardship and persecution if those who spent less time in the ghetto are eligible for funding as well.

“With restitution-related sources of funding on the decline, this long-term agreement obtained by the Claims Conference is vital to addressing the growing social welfare needs of aging Holocaust survivors,” said Berman. “It will provide survivors and the agencies that care for them the certainty that funding will be available to meet the anticipated growing demand over the next few years.”

The Claims Conference Special Negotiator, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, commended the German government for assuming responsibility for reparations and assisting survivors as they enter advanced age.

“Once again, the German government has recognized its historic responsibility to help care for Jewish Holocaust victims in their final years,” said Eizenstat, adding that “over the decades, the government has demonstrated its commitment to alleviating the plight of elderly victims who need the care that these funds will provide.”

Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President, emphasized the importance of the increased funds, enumerating the multiple ways in which survivors will benefit from them.

“With these increased funds, the Claims Conference can provide more hours of homecare, addressing the most basic needs of these aging and frail victims of Nazism. We can enable more survivors to remain in their own homes, living in familiar surroundings while getting the services they need and deserve,” said Schneider.

The Claims Conference, established in 1995, acts as an advocate for the social welfare and health needs of Jewish victims of Nazism.