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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Survivors’

Lithuanian Jews to Get Compensation for Holocaust, Soviet Occupation

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Government officials in Lithuania said they would offer symbolic reparations to nearly 1,800 Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The officials told the Baltic News Agency on Wednesday that each survivor will receive a payment of $622 this year. The compensation was also for “suffering during the Soviet occupation,” according to the announcement.

Lithuanian governments have faced criticism by international bodies, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for drawing parallels between Nazism and communism.

In 2011, the Lithuanian Parliament voted to offer Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community compensation for assets seized during the Holocaust. The government set up a $50 million fund to support the “religious, cultural and social” needs of Lithuania’s Jewish community.

Lithuania had a Jewish population of 250,000 in 1939, but 95 percent of its Jews were murdered during the Holocaust by Nazi soldiers and Lithuanian collaborators. Today Lithuania has some 5,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Holocaust Hideout in Warsaw Destroyed by Polish Couple

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

A Polish couple pleaded guilty to the desecration of a historic site for destroying a Holocaust-era Jewish hideout in the Warsaw apartment the couple was renting. The hideout was made into an official historic monument in 1999.

A Holocaust hideout built by a Warsaw ghetto inmate was destroyed by a polish couple who pleaded guilty to the desecration of historical property.

Dariusz P. and Elzbieta P. were indicted after their actions were discovered in 2012. They had removed the wardrobe hideout to make space for a kitchen. The original hiding place was built by Warsaw ghetto inmate Leon Jolson.

He and his wife, who survived the Holocaust, hid their family there from 1942 until September 1944, but his mother died while in hiding, the Associated Press reported.

Swiss Banks’ Holocaust Fund Has Paid Out $1.24 Billion

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Holocaust survivors and victims’ heirs have received $1.24 billion from a Swiss fund set up in 1998 following a scandal over dormant accounts of Jews killed in World War II, according to the Swiss  Jewish weekly Tachles.

It wrote that the figure appeared in a report by New York judge Edward Korman, who oversees the management of the fund.

Korman’s report summed up operations since a landmark 1998 deal between the World Jewish Congress and Swiss banks. Under the accord, the banks paid a $1.25 billion settlement, which was transformed into U.S. government bonds.

Payouts were then overseen by Korman and the Swiss-based Claims Resolution Tribunal, which wrapped up its operations in 2012.

All told, 457,000 Holocaust survivors and heirs have therefore received money from the fund.

Among them were 199,000 people who were pressed into forced labor by Nazi Germany, and who received a share of $288 million.

The banks were accused of keeping money owned by Jews who had hidden funds in secret accounts in neutral Switzerland but then perished in the Holocaust, and of stonewalling heirs who tried to track down the money.

Within the fund, a total of $800 million was destined for account holders and their heirs.

Germany Pledges $800 Million for Holocaust Survivors Home Care

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

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.

Chief of Staff, Son of Holocaust Survivor, Visits Auschwitz

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

IDF Chief of Benny Gantz, whose mother survived the Holocaust, wrote in the visitors’ book at Auschwitz Sunday that “the IDF will make sure that a horror [like the Holocaust] will not happen again.”

It has been said the true revenge for the Holocaust is to bring more Jews into the world in Israel and to return to the Nazi chambers with head held high to show the world who were the eventual and eternal victors over evil.

Gantz will fulfill that concept Monday as the first Israeli Chief of Staff to lead the “March of the Living, when he will lead 10,000 Jewish youth from around the world from the site of the Auschwitz death camp to that of nearby.

“On a clear, cold day, it is hard to understand or sense the gap between the silence all around and the horror that took place here, among the camp barracks, and inside of them, ” Gantz wrote. “The State of Israel is the security that an atrocity like this will not happen again. The IDF is the shield for the national home – the safe haven for the Jewish people….

“I am proud to stand at the head of the army and the delegation that, with great humility, seeks to bow its head in memory of the deceased and respect for the survivors, and to shoulder the responsibility of learning lessons from the past and ensuring future security.”

Israel began to mark Holocaust Memorial Day Sunday night at the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.

Most of the nation will stand in silence when the one-minute siren wails Monday morning in Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Visits Auschwitz (Video)

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors, is leading a delegation to a Holocaust memorial at the site of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Lt. Gen. Gantz left for Poland on Sunday, as Israel was preparing for the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day commemorations which begin Sunday night.

Lt. Gen. Gantz was welcomed in a military ceremony upon his arrival in Poland. He will later meet with Poland’s defense minister and chief of staff.

He will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

Back in 2008, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “there is no more reliable and loyal adherent of your stance and aspiration for a better and a fairer world order in the European Union than Poland.”

And in 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the Jewish people are an indelible part of Polish history, and Poland is an indelible part of Jewish history … Our deep bilateral cooperation is based on common values and a shared history, as well as on the aspiration to a common future in which we want to achieve the same goals.”

In light of those warm endorsements, it’s probably a good idea for Israeli military chiefs to keep visiting Auschwitz regularly.



Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day Starts Sunday Night

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, will be observed this year starting Sunday evening, April 7, the 27th of Nissan, and going through Monday night.

Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and for Jewish resistance, was signed into law by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Many Jews commemorate the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, but some prefer to remember and mourn the victims of the Holocaust on the 9th of Av and the 10th of Tevet, the two days dedicated to mourning our many national catastrophes by the sages.

In Israel, Yom HaShoah will open at sundown in a state ceremony held at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag will be lowered to half mast, the president and the prime minister will speak, the Chief Rabbis will recite prayers, and Holocaust survivors will light six torches.

At 10 AM Monday, two-minute sirens will sound throughout Israel, and people will stand at attention. Ceremonies commemorating the Holocaust will be held at schools, military bases and other community centers.

All places of public entertainment will be closed by law. Israeli radio television will air only Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, the cable comedy channel will be off, and all flags on public buildings will be flown at half mast.

Thousands of Israeli high-school students, as well as thousands of Jews and non-Jews from around the world, will participate in a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what has become known as “The March of the Living.” The event is organized in the hope of making the Holocaust experience “real” for young Jews born decades after the war.

Jews in the Diaspora will observe this day in their synagogue and community centers. Many Yom HaShoah programs will feature talks by a Holocaust survivors, recitation of psalms, poems and personal accounts, and viewing of Holocaust-related movies. Many Jewish day schools will hold Holocaust-related programs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/yom-hashoah-holocaust-memorial-day-starts-sunday-night/2013/04/06/

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