Germany to Expand Group of Holocaust Survivors Receiving Monthly Stipends

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Holocaust survivors walking at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, in 2016.
Holocaust survivors walking at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, in 2016. Credit: AP

The Jewish Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, popularly known as the Claims Conference, said Holocaust survivors who lived through the siege of Leningrad, who hid in Nazi-occupied France or survived persecution in Romania would be eligible for pension allowances of 375 euros ($435) a month.

Estimates are that about 6,500 people will be eligible to receive the money, about 2,000 of them living in Israel.

Germany provides two types of aid to two classes of Holocaust survivors – a monthly pension of 580 euros (soon to be raised to 600) for those who were in the “first circle,” meaning in the camps, ghettos, hiding places or those who lived under a false identity, and a one one-time grant of 2,556 euros for survivors who fled from the Nazi occupation and are recognized by Germany as survivors. Some in the second group meet the new criteria and will start receiving a monthly allowance.

“I have an obligation to Holocaust survivors to continue with the work of achieving justice in any possible way. I’m happy to see the German government’s recognition of the indescribable suffering of additional Holocaust survivors,” said Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, the Claims Conference special negotiator.

Gregory Schneider, the conference’s executive vice president, described the new eligibility categories as “extremely important symbols of Germany’s recognition of the suffering, and for many of the survivors this money will provide some relief from the deep poverty that forces them to choose between food, medicine or rent.” He added: “These days, when many Holocaust survivors the world over are dealing with extreme hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re proud that we were able to offer some hope, with almost $767 million of the compensation plans to be transmitted to survivors all over the world.”

The Claims Conference, a non-profit organization with offices in the United States, Israel and Germany, works to win material compensation for Holocaust survivors worldwide. Established in 1951 by representatives of 23 international Jewish organizations, the conference conducts negotiations and distributes money to individuals and organizations, and works for the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.

Since the first negotiations with the Claims Conference in 1952, the German government has paid individual compensation of about $90 billion to survivors for suffering and losses resulting from Nazi persecution. In 2021, the Claims Conference will distribute almost $625 million in individual compensation to over 260,000 survivors in 83 countries and has allocated about $640 million for grants to over 300 aid organizations worldwide, which provide vital services to survivors, such as home care, food and medicine.

Up to 1.5 million victims, including tens of thousands of Jews, are estimated to have died during the siege of Leningrad, which lasted 900 days, between September 1941 and January 1944. Leningrad’s 3 million residents had food reserves for only one month at the start of the siege.

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