Germany Pledges Over €550 Million to Holocaust Survivors

An organization that negotiates for compensation from the German Government has announced that the Government will provide €564 million ($662 million) to aid Holocaust survivors struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) revealed that around 240,000 survivors of the Holocaust, living in Israel, Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America, would receive payments over the coming two years.

The Holocaust occurred over 75 years ago, and all the claimants are now older people. The claimants all suffer medical issues, many of which are caused by the lack of proper nutrition when they were young. In addition to their medical problems, many live independently as their families were destroyed during the purges, and they suffer psychological issues due to the horrendous treatment meted out to them by the Nazis.



The executive vice president of the Claims Conference, Greg Schneider, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the survivors’ problems during the ongoing pandemic are common across all of them. They have the attitude that they have been through worse, that each of them had been through the Holocaust and had survived. They had lived through having no food, and if they had survived that, they would get through this as well.

However, if you take the time to look under the surface, it is clear that there is still a well of trauma within each of them.

Many survivors exist on or close to the poverty line. The additional costs of protective clothing, masks, and the cost of having groceries delivered has forced many into abject poverty. Many teeter on the brink of deciding what to get each month; rent, food, or medicine.

The new payments are designed for people that are not already receiving pensions from Germany. These are people that fled from the Nazis into Russia and elsewhere to hide during World War II.

Mr. Schneider said that some 50% of Holocaust survivors in the USA reside in Brooklyn in New York. They were very hard hit when the pandemic broke as New York was the epicenter of the outbreak in America, but other countries are now just as badly off, so the calamity rolls from one place to another.

The German Government will make two payments of €1,200 (approximately $1,400) over the coming two years to many of the poorest of the poor survivors still alive today. This is a commitment of €564 million ($662 million) by the German Government.

This is in addition to the $4.3 million in emergency funding that the Claims Conference has already distributed to organizations that care for survivors.

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp Czech Jewish Holocaust Survivor Ela Stein-Weissberger
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp Czech Jewish Holocaust Survivor Ela Stein-Weissberger

In addition to this extraordinary funding, the German Government has agreed to increase funds allocated to survivors’ social welfare services. In the recent annual negotiations, the funds were raised by €30,5 million to a total of €554,5 million for 2021.

The money allocated to social welfare services is used for in-home care for more than 83,000 survivors and assisting a further 70,000 for food, medical care, transport to medical facilities, and other programs to ease social isolation.

Over the years, the Claims Conference’s negotiations have resulted in Germany paying more than $80 billion to Holocaust survivors.

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Part of the negotiations includes the Claims Conference working with the German Government to expand the categories of eligible people for compensation. This year, the German Government agreed to include 27 ‘open ghettos’ situated in Romania and Bulgaria. This means that people who lived there during the Holocaust are now eligible to receive compensation.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE