Germany Says It Won't Rehash Reparations

The reparations agreement is final and Germany has no intention of reopening or expanding it, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told Holocaust survivors yesterday.

Steinbrueck, who met representatives of survivors' organizations in the German ambassador's residence in Herzliya, rejected their appeal to improve the reparations accord. He promised, however, that Germany will try to help needy survivors living in Israel if they apply via the Holocaust Claims Committee.

The Holocaust survivors had said the original 1952 accord with Israel did not account for their unexpected longevity or apply to tens of thousands of Holocaust victims who came to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"He said Germany reached an agreement with Israel on this matter ... and isn't willing to touch it," said Zeev Factor, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the meeting.

Steinbrueck told them that if German officials conclude that problems can be resolved within the framework of the existing agreement, then they will be willing to discuss it, Factor said.

Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, who had called for a reopening of the reparations agreement with Germany, did not meet Steinbrueck during his visit.