Israel Relaxes Criteria for Holocaust Survivors' Stipends

Appeals committee grants survivor status also to people who were not incarcerated in Nazi death camps.

In a precedent-setting move, a state committee on Sunday rule that people who were incarcerated in Romania and Bulgaria during World War II are to be recognized and receive benefits as Holocaust survivors, even if they were not sent to Nazi concentration or extermination camps.

The appeals committee for the implementation of the Nazi persecution law put Romanian and Bulgarian survivors on par with "first circle" Holocaust survivors, who are entitled to increased stipends in line with a government decision last November.

To date, the government has only granted increased stipends to survivors who were directly subject to Nazi persecution. Men and women who fled from Nazi-occupied areas, or lived under Nazi-allied regimes like Italy, Vichy France, Romania and Bulgaria, were not eligible to Holocaust survivors' stipends.

Following an appeal by Attorney Ilan Ya'akobovich, the appeals committee decided that people who were incarcerated in Bulgaria and Romania from 1941 onward were deprived of their freedom in a "Nazi-inspired style" and are therefore also eligible to increased reparations.

A month after the state recognized Tunisian immigrants who were persecuted by the French Vichy regime as full-fledged Holocaust survivors, Sunday's decision is a further move in the process of the relaxation of the criteria for stipends.