March 20, 2009
As a result of Claims Conference negotiations with the German government, Jewish victims of Nazism who applied to the Hardship Fund and were not eligible for payment under German government criteria will now be able to file a second application. Most have never before received a Holocaust era compensation payment.
This is a very significant breakthrough that may affect 13,000 Jewish victims of Nazism in 36 countries, including Israel, the U.S., Germany, Australia, and Canada.
This agreement will result in more than €33 million (approximately $42 million at today’s rate) in additional payments directly to needy Nazi victims.
The Claims Conference has approved more than 325,000 Nazi victims for payment under the Hardship Fund, which was established in 1980 after five years of Claims Conference negotiations. The Fund issues one-time payments of €2,556.
The Claims Conference has been pressing the issue of the second application very intensively with the German government for a number of years.
Up to now, once a final decision had been made on a case, a second application was not permitted under the German rules based on changed circumstances. This decision affects Nazi victims rejected by the Hardship Fund who are alive as of March 19, 2009. This decision includes eligible Nazi victims who have reached a certain age (65 for men, 60 for women), where the Nazi victim is presumed to have suffered the necessary damage to health required by the Hardship Fund.
In accordance with the German Government rules governing second applications, persons who in connection with an application for one-time assistance under the Hardship Fund Guidelines received a payment from the Claims Conference are not entitled to apply.
A second application is not a guarantee of receiving a Hardship Fund payment. The eligibility criteria for this program are determined by the German government, and applicants must meet those criteria to receive a payment.
View the full eligibility criteria for the Hardship Fund on the Claims Conference website.
This is one in a series of Claims Conference successes in liberalizing the eligibility criteria of compensation programs including the Hardship Fund. For example, in 2008, the Claims Conference negotiated Hardship Fund eligibility for an additional approximately 6,000 Jewish victims of the Leningrad Siege. In 2003, the Claims Conference negotiated an amendment to income restrictions for the Hardship Fund.
There are still many other issues that the Claims Conference will continue to negotiate with the German government. In recent years, the Claims Conference has prioritized obtaining funds for homecare for Nazi victims around the world, and will continue to press this point later in the year in further talks with Germany. The Claims Conference also continues to fight for equal rights and benefits for Jewish victims of Nazism in Eastern Europe as those given to victims in the West from Germany.
Information for Applicants Regarding Second Application to the Hardship Fund
All changes apply only to persons who did not previously receive a payment from the Claims Conference connected to the Hardship Fund. It is NOT possible to receive a second Hardship Fund payment.
Certain individuals who were rejected from the Hardship Fund may receive an application form in the mail.
Applicants should note the following:
For Nazi victims who were previously rejected by the Claims Conference and who are alive as of March 19, 2009 but pass away after that date, the Claims Conference is permitted to accept second applications from the spouse, or if the spouse is deceased, the child(ren) of the applicant. Any applications from such a spouse or child(ren) must be received by December 31, 2010.
Applicants who have never previously applied to the Hardship Fund: The general forms are available for download from the Claims Conference website or by contacting the Claims Conference office.
About the Hardship Fund
The 1969 filing deadline of the German Federal Indemnification Law (BEG) rendered it impossible for Jewish Holocaust survivors residing behind the Iron Curtain to receive compensation. In response to the waves of emigration of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the 1970s, the Claims Conference, on behalf of Holocaust survivors, sought the reopening of the BEG filing period to no avail. However, the Claims Conference was successful in its negotiations with the German government for the establishment, in 1980, of the Hardship Fund.
The Hardship Fund was established for the purpose of providing compensation to Jewish persecutees who suffered considerable damage to health as a result of Nazi persecution, are in special need and did not apply for compensation for their suffering under the German Federal Indemnification Law. Compensation is in the form of a one-time payment of €2556. Funding is provided by, and according to the regulations of, the German government, but the fund is administered by the Claims Conference. To date, the Claims Conference has paid a total of approximately $876 million in payments to eligible Nazi Victims under the Hardship Fund.
Full information and eligibility criteria for the Hardship Fund are at www.claimscon.org.