Jews who lived in Algeria during World War II and suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis will be entitled to compensation from the German government for the first time. The Conference on Material Claims Against Germany – known as the Claims Conference – conducted the negotiations on behalf of Jews who lived in Algeria between July 1940 and November 1942 and suffered from persecution by the Nazis and the French Vichy government. The Claims Conference will be responsible for locating the survivors and handling the payments, the Conference announced on Sunday.
Those eligible for compensation will be entitled to a one-time payment of 2,556.46 euros (about 11,000 shekels). Payments to those determined to be eligible will start in July 2018.
The Claims Conference estimates that about 25,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors from Algeria are still alive around the world, with approximately 3,900 of them living in Israel. The great majority of these survivors live in France today, with the largest community living in Paris.
“This is a long overdue recognition for a large group of Jews in Algeria who suffered anti-Jewish measures by Nazi allies like the Vichy Regime,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference. “The Vichy government subjected these people to restrictions on education, political life, participation in civil society and employment, abolishing French citizenship and singling them out only because they were Jews.”
Those eligible for compensation who live in Israel will be notified and helped to complete the necessary forms by the Claims Conference. Registration help centers will be opened in Paris, Toulouse, Lyon and Marseilles. More information can be found on the Claims Conference website: www.claimscon.org.
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During the war, Jews in Algeria suffered from a number of restrictions, such as being unable to study in schools. They were fired from their jobs and lost their French citizenship.
The most important decree against Algerian Jews was the revocation of their French citizenship in 1940, 70 years after Algerian Jews were first awarded such citizenship and rights, said Prof. Chaim Saadon, the head of the Documentation Center for North African Jewry During World War II at the Ben-Zvi Institute, and the dean of students at the Open University. “The French in Algeria never accepted the fact that the Jews there received equal rights, the same as the French. As far as the [French Algerians] were concerned, [the Jews] were locals, like the Arabs, even though they integrated into French society and even served in the [French] army,” added Saadon.
The new compensation agreement took years to negotiate with the German government, Schneider told Haaretz. Survivors from Morocco and from the siege on Leningrad have won similar compensation in recent years. The Algerian survivors are the last large group remaining that will receive such compensation from Germany, he said.
The Claims Conference is a non-profit organization with offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, which secures compensation for Holocaust survivors around the world. Founded in 1951 by representatives of 23 major international Jewish organizations, the Claims Conference negotiates for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.