Germany agrees compensation for Kindertransport refugees

The German government said Monday it has agreed to an one-off payment to survivors of the Kindertransport programme, which brought Jewish children persecuted in Nazi Germany to safety in Britain.

Germany agrees compensation for Kindertransport refugees
Jewish children were transported to the UK in a rescue mission 80 years ago. Photo: DPA/ARD

Around 10,000 young lives were saved from the horrors of Adolf Hitler's regime by the relief action that began in December 1938 and ended in May 1940.

The announcement, hailed as “historic” by the Claims Conference negotiators representing Jewish victims, came 80 years after the first Kindertransport left for Britain.

A fund will be made available from January 1st, 2019, and the Claims Conference will begin processing the eligible applications for the compensation amounting to €2,500 euros per person.

“This one-time payment pays tribute to the special destiny of these children. They have had to leave their families in peacetime, in many cases, never to see each other again,” said German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin

Stuart Eizenstat, who represented the Claims Conference in the negotiations, said that “after having to endure a life forever severed from their parents and families, no one can ever profess to make them whole; they
are receiving a small measure of justice.”

SEE ALSO: Ex-child refugee retraces escape from Nazi Germany on a bicycle

After the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) pogroms across Nazi Germany on November 9th, 1938, a group of Protestant, Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed to then British prime minister Neville Chamberlain to allow in unaccompanied Jewish children.

A rescue effort mobilized swiftly, and the first Kindertransport arrived at Harwich on December 2nd, 1938, carrying 196 children from a Berlin Jewish orphanage which had been torched by the Nazis on Kristallnacht.

Over 18 months, 10,000 children fleeing persecution in Germany, Austria, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia, were brought to safety in Britain.

“In heartbreaking scenes on train platforms, these children were often torn from their parents' arms and, in virtually every case, never saw them again,” said the Claims Conference.

Younger children were placed with families while those above 16 years old were given help to obtain training and employment.

The last transport left from the Dutch port of IJmuiden on May 14th, 1940 — a day before the Netherlands surrendered.

Germany has paid out more than 75 billion euros in compensation to victims of Nazism, the finance ministry said, citing data until the end of 2017.

“The federal government is aware that money or other benefits can never make up for the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the surviving victims of Nazi wrongs,” added Chaudhuri

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Halle anti-Semitic attack tributes defaced with swastikas

Graffiti tributes to mark one year since a deadly anti-Semitic attack in the German city of Halle have been sprayed over with swastikas, police said on Friday.

Halle anti-Semitic attack tributes defaced with swastikas
The Halle synagogue in Halle on Friday morning, one year after the attack. Photo: DPA

A left-wing group called Antifa Halle had sprayed stencil images with the names of the two victims of the October 2019 attack in various locations across the city on Sunday night, according to a report in the Bild daily.

But some of the images with the inscription “Never forget — Kevin and Jana” were smeared with red swastikas on Thursday night, the eve of the anniversary of the Halle attack, the report said.

An investigation has been launched and work has begun to remove the swastikas, police told AFP.

The attack targeting a synagogue in Halle on October 9th, 2019 came during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, and was one of the worst acts of anti-Semitic violence in Germany's post-war history.

READ ALSO: What we know about the synagogue shooting in Halle

A neo-Nazi suspect, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet, is currently on trial for the attack and has told the court it was “not a mistake”.

The suspect had sought to storm the synagogue, but when the door failed to break down, he shot dead a female passer-by and a man at a kebab shop instead, named as Jana L. and Kevin S. by German media.

The Antifa Halle group said in a statement sent to media that its graffiti was intended to draw attention to the fact that nothing has changed a year on from the attack, according to Bild.

Anti-Semitic crimes have risen steadily in Germany in recent years, with 2,032 offences recorded in 2019, up 13 percent on the previous year.

They have sparked soul-searching in Germany, which has placed a huge emphasis on atoning for the murder of six million European Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime during World War II.

Just this week, a Jewish student was attacked outside a synagogue in Hamburg in a case that police are treating as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent, condemned by Chancellor Angela Merkel as a “disgrace”.

READ ALSO: German police probe Jewish student attack as attempted murder