96-year-old Survivor of Leningrad Siege Might Lose State Nursing Care

Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims is demanding Grigori Polichuk provide certification that he was persecuted by the Nazis.

Gil Eliahu

A 96-year-old who survived the Siege of Leningrad has been asked by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims to provide proof that he is a survivor if he wants to continue receiving nursing care.

For the past three years, Grigori Polichuk has been receiving nine hours of  care weekly from the Israeli group. The Tiberias resident is currently in the hospital after a leg amputation.

But in a letter last week, the foundation asked him to provide proof from an “authorized entity” if he is to continue receiving assistance. The foundation said it had failed to obtain such papers after Polichuk failed to provide proof that he had been persecuted by the Nazis.

“The foundation’s director of nursing care is in contact with the family, and the foundation is examining how to assist Mr. Polichuk with all the tools at its disposal such as continuing to try to obtain the necessary authorization,” the foundation said.

According to the group, “In accordance with the directives under which the foundation operates ... we must ensure that you have been recognized as persecuted by the Nazis ... by one of the following bodies: the Claims Commission, the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority, or any other authorized body (not including the Red Cross).”

Twenty-three years ago Polichuk followed his children and emigrated to Israel.

“My father lives with us. He is 96, he went through World War II, he is handicapped,” said Polichuk’s daughter, Natalia Kanana. “His whole family was killed in a ghetto in Ukraine.” After surviving the Siege of Leningrad, Polichuk became a Soviet officer and fought during the war.

Kanana says her father was recognized as 28 percent handicapped and receives monthly payments from the Finance Ministry, not the National Insurance Institute. She says a few years ago Polichuk received a card from the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority, under the aegis of the Finance Ministry, designating him handicapped.

The foundation says it provides assistance to Holocaust survivors who are completely or greatly dependent on others. According to its website, it is funded by the Finance Ministry.

Kanana says her father went through four operations on his legs last year, all the result of war wounds. A leg had to be amputated after the last operation failed. He is now at Poriya Hospital in Tiberias, where he is conscious but not communicative.

“How can such demands be made of a man in his condition?” his daughter said, adding that his assistance should be increased, not reduced. “Now they tell me my dad has to go to a committee and start all over again,” Kanana said, adding that when she requested further assistance given her father’s deteriorating health, she was turned down.

For its part, the foundation says it regrets the distress to Polichuk and his family.

“The foundation is subordinate to the funding entities, which require full and official confirmation of eligibility from formal entities,” it said. “From time to time, checks are made on the eligibility of those receiving nursing care, and sometimes mistakes are made that must be corrected.”

It said this was done with sufficient warning, with foundation staff helping the survivor and the family.

“In most cases these authorizations are found and the survivor continues to receive the full nursing care hours,” the foundation said. “Even in unusual cases efforts are made to find a solution.”