June 30, 2008
Figures obtained by the Claims Conference this week regarding the German government Ghetto Fund show that 21,800 people have applied for the Fund’s one-time payment and that 4,500 applications have been approved to date.
Earlier this month, the Claims Conference negotiating delegation in Germany pressed the issue of the Ghetto Fund, which was established by the German government in September 2007 to issue one-time payments of €2,000 to certain Jewish Holocaust survivors who carried out non-forced work in ghettos. An estimated 50,000 survivors may be eligible.
The Fund was established last year due to Claims Conference intensive negotiations on the issue of the high rejection rate of cases filed under the German government’s social security Ghetto Pension Law (ZRBG). The Claims Conference is now closely monitoring its implementation.
In meetings with government officials from various political parties, the Claims Conference raised the issues of information to survivors about the Fund and pressed for a faster rate of processing.
The Claims Conference delegation met with Ulla Schmidt, Federal Minister of Health; Franz-Josef Lersch-Mense, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs; Volker Kauder, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union Parliamentary Group; Walter Kolbow, Thomas Oppermann, and Gert Weisskirchen of the Social Democratic Party; Renate Künast, Parliamentary Group Chairwoman, Greens, and Volker Beck, Parliamentary Secretary, Greens; Petra Pau of Die Linke (The Left); Dr. Max Stadler, Member of Parliament, FDP, Free Democratic Party (Liberals); and officials from the Ministry of Finance.
The Claims Conference will also continue to make all possible efforts to secure a more liberal application of the existing social security Ghetto pension law following German court decisions in favor of applicants.
To assist survivors to apply to the Ghetto Fund, the Claims Conference has set up a network of international Help Centers. All assistance is free of charge. In the United States, applicants can additionally obtain pro bono legal assistance in their local community by contacting New York Legal Assistance Group or through the national Pro Bono Ghetto Fund Project designed by Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles.
Please see Ghetto Fund Information for Survivors for general information on German social security payments, access to application forms for the humanitarian Ghetto Fund, and contact information for help centers and legal services.
The Claims Conference is not involved in the administration, implementation or processing of Social Insurance pensions for the German government or its Social Security institutions or payments from this newly established fund.