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Germany Pledges $800 Million for Holocaust Survivors Home Care

Germany officials recently met in Israel for the first time to negotiate aid for Holocaust survivors, whom they visited in their homes and at soup kitchens. Now it announces $800 million more aid.
Holocaust survivors at Chabad soup kitchen in Israel

Holocaust survivors at Chabad soup kitchen in Israel
Photo Credit: Kollel Chabad

The German government has agreed to significantly expand its funding of home care for infirm Holocaust survivors and relax eligibility criteria for restitution programs to include Jews who spent time in so-called open ghettos.

The agreement, reached after negotiations in Israel with the Claims Conference, will result in approximately $800 million in new funding for home care for Holocaust survivors from 2014 to 2017. This is in addition to $182 million for 2014 that already has been committed.

In 2015, the amount will rise by 45 percent, to approximately $266 million, and then to $273 million in 2016 and $280 million in 2017. Because the sums are set in euro, the actual amounts may change depending on currency fluctuations.

The $84 million increase in funding between 2014 and 2015 will represent the largest year-over-year increase since the program began with approximately $36.6 million in 2004, though a bigger percentage increase took place in 2010, when funding doubled from $68 million $136 million.

“With this new agreement, the Claims Conference will be able to both increase the number of beneficiaries, thus eliminating waiting lists of survivors for home care, as well as increase the number of hours per person to a minimum level of dignity,” Claims Conference board chairman Julius Berman wrote in a letter to the board.

Some 56,000 survivors are now receiving home care through the Claims Conference.

The announcement of new funding comes amid controversy for the Claims Conference over revelations related to bungled investigations in 2001 that failed to detect a broad fraud at the Holocaust restitution organization. A document obtained last week by JTA showed that top Claims Conference officials were involved in the botched probes, including then-executive vice president Gideon Taylor and Berman, who in 2001 served as outside counsel to the Claims Conference.

Claims Conference employee Semen Domnitser, a director of two restitution funds who was at the center of the 2001 inquiries, was found guilty earlier this month in federal court of masterminding the scheme, which ran up more than $57 million in fraudulent claims from 1993 until 2009. The cost of the fraud was borne entirely by Germany.

In his letter to the Claims Conference’s board announcing the result of the latest negotiations, former U.S. ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, who leads negotiations with Germany for the Claims Conference, hailed the work of executive vice president Greg Schneider, who along with a senior Claims Conference staffer discovered and stopped the fraud scheme in 2009.

“The lives of tens of thousands of Holocaust victims will be made easier in their old age due to Greg’s skill and vision,” Eizenstat wrote in his message to the board.

“This unprecedented amount of funding means that we can give Nazi victims around the world the aid that they desperately need as they grow more frail,” he said. “That the agreement encompasses funding through 2017 underscores the German government’s ongoing commitment to Holocaust survivors. It is all the more impressive because it comes at a time of budget austerity in Germany.”

In last week’s negotiations, which took place in Israel, Germany also agreed to relax eligibility criteria for the Central and Eastern European Fund and Article 2 Fund, through which the German government gives pension payments of approximately $411 per month to needy Nazi victims who spent significant time in a concentration camp, in a Jewish ghetto in hiding or living under a false identity to avoid the Nazis.

Until now, only those who were interned in closed-off ghettos were eligible for pensions. As of Jan. 1, 2014, pensions will be available also to those forced to live in any of 300 specific open ghettos, such as those in Czernowitz, Romania, where Jews lived under curfew, lost their jobs and were subject to persecution.

The session that just concluded was the first time since restitution negotiations with Germany began in Luxembourg in 1951 that talks were held in Israel. For decades, the negotiations were held only in the German capital. In recent years, sessions also were held in New York and Washington.

Before they began negotiating last week, German representatives met with survivors in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, visiting private homes where survivors are receiving home care, a senior day center and a soup kitchen. They also took a guided tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem. The negotiations were held in a classroom at Yad Vashem.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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9 Responses to “Germany Pledges $800 Million for Holocaust Survivors Home Care”

  1. Pearl Bryan says:

    O.o I don’t believe Germany will actually do this… 90% of Germans are still Jew haters…

  2. Conscious money…kinda’ like the U.S. paying the Indians.

  3. Not sure how I feel about this actually… And Pearl do you know that statistic to be factually true? If not, (and i highly doubt that it is) it’s as bad as a ‘Jew hater’ declaring that 90% of us jews have hooked noses, or are tight fisted, or control the media. Words are powerful – we must use them carefully.

  4. Anonymous says:

    like my parents, survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, the oldest Holocaust survivors have died. Those who were very young deserve this financial assistance. The problem is the Holocaust Claims Conference has allowed funds to be stolen or mismanaged. Will the same thing happen with these funds? I have suggested in the past that funds be given to children of Holocaust survivors who have great trauma. No Holocaust survivor should go without medicine or food.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  5. Anonymous says:

    You should read the horrible anti-Semitic comments on the comment part of the J.T.A. on this subject. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  6. Anonymous says:

    After reading the almost daily reports concerning the shenanigans perpetrated by the Holocaust Claims Conference, I find myself, the 65-year-old child of Holocaust survivors, sickened. The conference’s mishandling and out-and-out theft of over $50 million is a chilul Hashem. Is this the legacy we want to hand down to families of survivors?

    My parents, survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, died when I was relatively young. Except for one cousin, their entire families perished in the Holocaust, losing all their property, including land and businesses.

    I recognize that Holocaust survivors believe the funds allocated by Germany belong to them, and, certainly, all Holocaust survivors in need of food, medicine, and the financial assistance just made available by Germany, should receive this additional funding through the Holocaust Claims Conference.

    However, there are other venues to which these funds could be distributed which would help the children, grandchildren, and future generations of those who suffered. Jewish education is primary. How many rabbinical theological seminaries offer courses and other education in Holocaust history? This would be an ideal way to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and those who died.

    Many day schools are in desperate need of financial assistance, and the same is true of many synagogues. Many young Jewish families, especially those who are observant, are struggling to keep kosher, send their children to yeshivas, support synagogue, and purchase homes in appropriate neighborhoods.

    It makes no sense for the Jewish community to allow the same leadership of the Holocaust Claims Conference to misappropriate, mismanage, and literally steal more funds. It is time for new leadership. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  7. Anonymous says:

    After reading the almost daily reports concerning the shenanigans perpetrated by the Holocaust Claims Conference, I find myself, the 65-year-old child of Holocaust survivors, sickened. The conference’s mishandling and out-and-out theft of over $50 million is a chilul Hashem. Is this the legacy we want to hand down to families of survivors?

    My parents, survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, died when I was relatively young. Except for one cousin, their entire families perished in the Holocaust, losing all their property, including land and businesses.

    I recognize that Holocaust survivors believe the funds allocated by Germany belong to them, and, certainly, all Holocaust survivors in need of food, medicine, and the financial assistance just made available by Germany, should receive this additional funding through the Holocaust Claims Conference.

    However, there are other venues to which these funds could be distributed which would help the children, grandchildren, and future generations of those who suffered. Jewish education is primary. How many rabbinical theological seminaries offer courses and other education in Holocaust history? This would be an ideal way to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and those who died.

    Many day schools are in desperate need of financial assistance, and the same is true of many synagogues. Many young Jewish families, especially those who are observant, are struggling to keep kosher, send their children to yeshivas, support synagogue, and purchase homes in appropriate neighborhoods.

    It makes no sense for the Jewish community to allow the same leadership of the Holocaust Claims Conference to misappropriate, mismanage, and literally steal more funds. It is time for new leadership. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  8. Anonymous says:

    by RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG IS IT TRUE THAT the Claims Conference SEEMS to be paying an alleged Nazi sympathizer reparations.

    Two years ago, I read an article about Alex Kurzem in a Melbourne newspaper. Having watched the "60 minutes" segment in horror and disbelief, I've followed this story and the Jewish Claims Conference's involvement.

    As a Rabbi, I am ashamed by the Conference's lack of scrutiny in its determination of Kurzem's eligibility for reparations – based purely on a tall tale, which now appears even to have included a fraudulent document! Surely, the Conference has a fiduciary responsibility and owes those who truly were persecuted by the Nazis, to be thorough and discriminating in its validation of veracity. It did not fulfill that responsibility.

    Please explain to me, how it is you have been aware of the doubts and inaccuracies of Mr. Kurzem's story since 2009, yet have done nothing about rescinding his reparations?

    How does the Claims Conference accept, tolerate, and apparently condone, that in 1972, Kurzem provided an affidavit endorsing the good character of Nazi SS Colonel Karlis Lobe?

    Please help me understand the inconsistency in the Haaretz article appearing last year, where Greg Schneider was quoted as saying no fraud was found in Kurzem's application.Yet in the same article, Kurzem claims he never said he "was Ilya Galperin" , the person he claimed to be when filling out his application for reparations.

    How does the Conference define persecution? In a 2008 Penthouse article Kurzem is quoted as saying, the Nazis were "my family", “I felt safe; I wasn’t hungry and I was looked after". Please tell me, Rabbi Berman, that cannot possibly qualify as persecution by the Conference's criteria, can it?

    A multi-million dollar fraud was committed on your watch already. Isn't that enough embarrassment to the Jewish community? I don't need to remind you of the higher standard to which we, as Jews are always held, and that the Conference cannot afford its integrity to be doubted or compromised.

    Six million are owed so much more, Rabbi Berman! Isn't it time the Conference came clean on Kurzem?

    IS IT TRUE THAT the Claims Conference SEEMS to be paying an alleged Nazi sympathizer reparations.
    The Testimonies Director at the Centre, Mr Phillip Maisel, who recorded Kurzem’s story formed the impression that his interviewee was not being entirely truthful: “There was something strange about his story, something didn’t add up.” Researcher Colleen Fitzpatrick, concerned with preserving an accurate history of the Jewish Holocaust, has written: "Mr. Kurzem not only has and will continue to experience substantial financial gain and recognition from his books and his movie, he also lectures internationally to school children, thereby feeding the next generation with what may be distortions of the truth."

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is It True the Claims Conference May Be Paying Reparations to an alleged Nazi sympathizer?

    An Open Letter to Claims Conference Chairman, Rabbi Julius Berman.

    by Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Two years ago, I read an article about Alex Kurzem in a Melbourne newspaper. Having watched the "60 minutes" segment in horror and disbelief, I've followed this story and the Jewish Claims Conference's involvement.

    As a Rabbi, I am ashamed by the Conference's lack of scrutiny in its determination of Kurzem's eligibility for reparations – based purely on a tall tale, which now appears even to have included a fraudulent document! Surely, the Conference has a fiduciary responsibility and owes those who truly were persecuted by the Nazis, to be thorough and discriminating in its validation of veracity. It did not fulfill that responsibility.

    Please explain to me, how it is you have been aware of the doubts and inaccuracies of Mr. Kurzem's story since 2009, yet have done nothing about rescinding his reparations?

    How does the Claims Conference accept, tolerate, and apparently condone, that in 1972, Kurzem provided an affidavit endorsing the good character of Nazi SS Colonel Karlis Lobe?

    Please help me understand the inconsistency in the Haaretz article appearing last year, where Greg Schneider was quoted as saying no fraud was found in Kurzem's application.Yet in the same article, Kurzem claims he never said he "was Ilya Galperin" , the person he claimed to be when filling out his application for reparations.

    How does the Conference define persecution? In a 2008 Penthouse article Kurzem is quoted as saying, the Nazis were "my family", “I felt safe; I wasn’t hungry and I was looked after". Please tell me, Rabbi Berman, that cannot possibly qualify as persecution by the Conference's criteria, can it?

    A multi-million dollar fraud was committed on your watch already. Isn't that enough embarrassment to the Jewish community? I don't need to remind you of the higher standard to which we, as Jews are always held, and that the Conference cannot afford its integrity to be doubted or compromised.

    Six million are owed so much more. Isn't it time, Rabbi Berman the Claims Conference came clean on Kurzem?

    (The Testimonies Director at the Centre, Mr Phillip Maisel, who recorded Kurzem’s story formed the impression that his interviewee was not being entirely truthful: “There was something strange about his story, something didn’t add up.” Researcher Colleen Fitzpatrick, concerned with preserving an accurate history of the Jewish Holocaust, has written: "Mr. Kurzem not only has and will continue to experience substantial financial gain and recognition from his books and his movie, he also lectures internationally to school children, thereby feeding the next generation with what may be distortions of the truth.").

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