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Holocaust compensation reaches eastern Europe

Published: 16 Nov 2012 06:47 GMT+01:00

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and JCC head Julius Berman attended a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Luxembourg Agreement under which West Germany assumed responsibility for the Nazis' crimes and paid reparations.

During the solemn event at Berlin's Jewish Museum, they sealed a new pact widening the group of people to receive payments, taking in survivors long ineligible because they lived behind the Iron Curtain, and tailoring compensation to ageing recipients' needs.

"The Holocaust survivors who are alive today were young when they emerged from the ashes, but much older before their time," Berman said.

"Old age is hard enough, but many survivors are now feeling in full the effects of the starvation and forced labour of their youths. Their finances have suffered from the years of lost education and lost family assets. And with their careers and child rearing behind them, they have more time alone with their memories of terror and loss."

Under the agreement, an additional 80,000 Holocaust survivors in eastern Europe will receive compensation. It also formalises an entitlement for about 100,000 Jewish victims of the Nazis to home care services.

"This is direct assistance which will immediately benefit those concerned," Schäuble said. "In so doing, Germany is renewing its commitment to its historical responsibility towards Jewish victims of the Holocaust."

Schäuble noted that the task of ensuring reparations to all survivors was complicated by the unfathomable dimensions of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, and that payments were a gesture that could only fall short in light of their suffering.

"The crime of the Holocaust was so unimaginably huge that we don't know the names of all of those killed, nor of all those who are entitled to make claims and that is why we have to keep making adjustments," he told Berlin public broadcaster rbb-inforadio earlier.

The JCC has worked to ensure compensation for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution since 1951 and fights for the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.

It says there are around 500,000 Holocaust survivors still alive today.

Thursday's agreement was an update of an extension dating from 1992, two years after Germany reunified following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Jewish victims of the Nazis who have never received compensation will get an immediate payment of about €2,500. Those who spent at least three months in a concentration camp or ghetto or spent six months in hiding are entitled to a monthly pension of €300.

The JCC estimates the accord will cost Berlin about $300 million. Under the Luxembourg Agreement signed on September 10, 1952, West Germany accepted responsibility for the Nazi genocide and paid more than three billion marks (about €1.5 billion) to the state of Israel and the JCC.

It was widely seen as West Germany's first major step back into the community of nations after World War II. The communist East German government saw itself as a bulwark against fascism and rejected any claim to liability for the Nazis' crimes.

To date, Germany has paid an estimated $70 billion to Holocaust survivors and programmes that aid survivors, according to the JCC.

Stuart E. Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the European Union who now serves as a special negotiator for the JCC, said Germany was exemplary in owning up to its historical crimes.

"Never before or since has a defeated nation paid individuals for wartime injuries," he said.


"For 60 years, post-war Germany has been writing a new chapter in world history in which its people can say to the world that 'What we did was unforgivable, but what we have done to compensate our victims has been unique.'"


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:44 November 16, 2012 by Anny One again
UK to end financial aid to India by 2015


If you catch my drift !
12:59 November 16, 2012 by freechoice
Was watching the WW2 documentary yesterday, and it was talking about Henrich Himmler. He was really one sick bastard. After having informed of the physiological effects on the soldiers who did the masscare of the Jews using machine guns squads. He thought maybe Gas Chambers would be nicer option to free them from the guilt.
14:15 November 16, 2012 by ND1000
Thats a great plan. What about the non Jews, what do they get?
16:54 November 16, 2012 by raandy
Thats very true,ND1000, there were lots of non jews in those death camps.
18:53 November 16, 2012 by septiSeverus
Unique indeed.....67 years after the war, $70 billion paid out and still counting. Its about the money.
20:50 November 16, 2012 by michael valerio
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
23:51 November 16, 2012 by trevzns
No German taxpayers are not stupid.

And its Holocaust Golden Calf....Moses lived to be 120 years and Aaron the maker of the golden calf lived to be.....?

Hopefully cash cows today will not live that long?
09:08 November 17, 2012 by Englishted
@Anny One again,

Not the same at all .So drift off .

Would you like the U.K. to support your space program ,while many of the population are below the poverty line and live in slums.
23:18 November 17, 2012 by iSlam-mudslime
00:43 November 18, 2012 by Anny One again

I think thats a little bit a cheap excuse.

Germany gave Israel a lot of material and financial Assistance,We don`t asked and don`t have to asked them what they have done with Money.Just think about the international Headlines.On the other hand we know today that a nuclear development program is very expensive.Do you think that just the many Kibbuz earned the cost of such a program ?While a quarter of orthodox Jews studying the Holy Books every Day?

"Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria"The clandestine alliance between Israel and the apartheid regime,cemented with the ultimate gift of friendship - A-bomb technology


Yeah thats right,with a apardheit regime !!

Remember Ed Fagan;still wearing an ABCNEWS 20/20 microphone, could be heard "haggling over the fees, and then boasting of his success". He was recorded saying, "I got the legal fees up, ... We did great, we did great we just got another, we just got some more money".http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Fagan

But what about the UK and India?What India do with the money. is their business as well. Moreover, it could have been connected to earmarks. But there is obviously a "good reason" not to debate or mention the colonial crimes and the damage. Perhaps the British government had a false association with the film title "slum dog millionaire.
14:15 November 18, 2012 by Englishted
@ Anny One again

I would ask ,would you agree there are more people of Indian descent living in the U.K. now than there were Brits living in India during the whole time it was under British control? ,would you not agree that the amount of money spent on social welfare to people of sub -continental descent far exceeds the money removed from India in the Raj ,if you take into account the infrastructure the British built in India.

Would you think it correct if the U.K. demanded payment from Italy for the Roman occupation of Britain (also about 400 years ) even though we could say "what did the Romans ever do for us " .
17:49 November 18, 2012 by raandy
You know what these folks are saying "better late than never"
09:41 November 19, 2012 by Anny One again

Quot-"I would ask ,would you agree there are more people of Indian descent living in the U.K. now than there were Brits living in India during the whole time it was under British control?"-Quot

Thankfully, since then the British food is edible at least, I know that Curry is your national dish.And of course, fewer Britons were living in India than vice versa. They were eventually distributed around the whole world,right?

Quot-"Would you not agree that the amount of money spent on social welfare to people of sub -continental descent far exceeds the money removed from India in the Raj ,if you take into account the infrastructure the British built in India.!-Quot

I'm sure in 300 years to 1947, India would have even without the British eventually changed its infrastructure.Also you think the UK actually build the infrastructure for the Indian people? Not for them self (the UK)?As one for centuries called this land as his own ?Your Queen was even the Empress of India.

China and India together held until the 17th century 70% of the worlds GDP. The best example can be seen for the last 20 years in the rapidly emerging economies such as China and India.

Quot-" Would you think it correct if the U.K. demanded payment from Italy for the Roman occupation of Britain (also about 400 years ) even though we could say "what did the Romans ever do for us "-Quot.

They teach you to drink from cups and not from skulls anymore.

Its seems after all you have no sense of a national wrongdoing?Don`t you? Although I have nothing to do with the Holocaust,but I feel a certain responsibility to the Jewish people.Although I am sometimes very critical, but not anti-Semitic
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