8,000 Romanian-born Israelis to Be Recognized as Holocaust Survivors, Receive Compensation

Agreement on payment of benefits follows months of talks between Israel and Germany

Jews are deported from their homes closely guarded by a soldier wearing a Romanian army uniform, in 1941.
Bundesarchiv - German Federal Archive

Some 8,000 Romanian-born Israelis who had not been previously recognized as survivors of the Holocaust according to German law will now receive compensation for their wartime persecution from the German and Israeli governments, including retroactive compensation for the past 20 years, thanks to an agreement between the two countries announced Thursday.

The reparations will be paid to former residents of 20 towns in Romania, including Iasi and Constanta, who were born before 1929 and either lived or worked during World War II in open ghettos. The term generally refers to areas to which Jews were confined and that were subject to restrictions on entering or leaving but which were not walled in. To be eligible for the payments, the immigrants to Israel will have had to have moved to Israel after October 1, 1953.

Those eligible for the compensation will receive between 100 and 200 euros ($113 to $226) per month, based on various criteria, and will include retroactive compensation for the past 20 years. The retroactive payments alone are expected to cost the German government up to 380 million euros ($428 million). 

Recipients will also be entitled to future monthly stipends of 2,000 shekels ($565) from the Israeli Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivors’Rights Authority. The descendants of those who would have qualified for the benefits and who were born after 1910 and died after June 1, 2002 will also be entitled to receive the German reparations.

The agreement on payment of the benefits, which will include a future monthly stipend, follows ten months of negotiations between Israel and Germany, the Social Equality Ministry said on Thursday. The talks were initiated by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.

A monument in memory of Jews murdered by the Romanian army in one of the settlements in Bessarabia, in Ramat Hasharon, Israel.
David Shai

There was disagreement between the two governments regarding the definition of open ghetto, the ministry told Haaretz. Ultimately the Germans accepted the definition adopted by Israel’s Holocaust remembrance authority, Yad Vashem. Three Yad Vashem researchers and the Israeli Foreign Ministry official responsible for restitution of World War II era property were among those involved in the negotiations.