NEW YORK - The German government will pay a lifetime monthly stipend to Holocaust survivors from Libya and Tunisia, as well as from several Western European countries. This is the first time Germany will pay stipends to survivors from North Africa.
The new agreement was reached Tuesday following two days of negotiations between the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and senior German government officials in Berlin.
Under the agreement, Germany will budget in the next two years an additional 22 million euro for the nursing needs of elderly and sick Holocaust survivors, who are already receiving funding for nursing care.
Thousands of survivors who were in Western European countries during World War II, including France, Holland and Belgium, will be entitled to a monthly stipend for the remainder of their lives. According to the president of the Claims Conference, Dr. Israel Singer, survivors from these countries already received stipends from Germany in the 1960s through separate agreements with their governments, but in most cases these involved a one-time payment. The new agreement broadens their entitlement to direct payments from Germany for life. Those eligible will be joining some 70,000 Holocaust survivors around the globe who have been receiving a monthly stipend for several years.
Singer and Gideon Taylor, executive director of the Claims Conference, estimate some 6,000 survivors are eligible under the new agreement, and they will receive monthly stipends of 300 euro on average.
Noach Flug, chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, who took part in the talks, said that the agreement with Germany is of great significance for the welfare of survivors in need of nursing care and the thousands of survivors who have never received an allowance despite meeting the relevant criteria.
Singer did not confirm a report circulating among Jewish organizations in New York that Germany is close to agreeing to pay social security fees for all survivors who worked for the Third Reich in ghettos and concentration camps in areas outside the category of forced labor.
He said that German officials had expressed a willingness in principle to discuss social security payments, and that his delegation met with similar support during meetings Tuesday with heads of the four major political parties in Germany.