U.S. Congress Calls on Germany to Increase Support for Holocaust Survivors

U.S. lawmakers cite Berlin's 'moral and historical responsibility' to the victims of the Holocaust.

Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and political activist, receives a standing ovation during a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015.
Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of Congress members introduced a resolution calling on the German government to provide additional financial aid to Holocaust survivors in their waning years.

The resolution, which was introduced in the House and the Senate on Friday, aims to ensure “that all Holocaust victims live with dignity, comfort, and security in their remaining years.” It calls on Germany “to reaffirm its commitment to this goal through a financial commitment to comprehensively address the unique health and welfare needs of vulnerable Holocaust victims, including home care and other medically prescribed needs.”

Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), and Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sponsored the resolution, which cites Germany’s “moral and historical responsibility” to the survivors.

According to the resolution, there are about 100,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, as well as about 500,000 in the rest of the world, and they all have increasing health and welfare needs that require assistance.

The resolution comes following an exchange of correspondence between members of Congress and the German Finance Ministry last December in which representatives of the German government acknowledged that “recent experience has shown that the care financed by the German government to date is insufficient” and that “it is imperative to expand these assistance measures quickly given the advanced age of many of the affected persons.”

The German government is engaged in a new round of negotiations with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, known as the Claims Conference, to address these funding gaps.

The resolution was introduced two days before President Barack Obama arrived on Sunday for a visit to Germany, which also is a week before Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, on May 5.