The Claims Conference has reached a landmark agreement with the German Finance Ministry under which the organization and the German government will together provide assistance to Jewish child survivors of the Holocaust.
“The joint fund will recognize survivors worldwide who were in camps, ghettos, hiding and false identity for psychological and medical trauma caused during their deprived childhoods,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman.
“Jewish children were in constant fear of death during the Holocaust. As you can imagine, this distress and the horrors of the Shoah have permeated so many aspects of their lives,” said Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator.
Those survivors of the Shoah who were born January 1, 1928 or later and who were in concentration camps, ghettos, or for at least six months under Nazi occupation (or 12 months in Nazi Axis countries) in hiding or under false identity will be eligible to receive a special one-time payment of €2,500 (approximately $3,280) because of special needs.
“The suffering endured by these young Nazi victims, including devastating separation from parents at a critical time in a child’s development, as well as witnessing unimaginable atrocities, deprivation from proper nutrition, and a range of injurious experiences has had a cumulative effect and are resulting in late-onset problems that only now are manifesting as physical and psychological symptoms in the survivors’ advanced age,” said Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President.
The fund is expected to become operational on January 1, 2015, and details will be made available after approval by the German Bundestag and the Claims Conference.
The agreement reached by the Claims Conference in negotiations with the German government comes on the heels of the first-ever symposium of Jewish Child survivors held in Berlin on August 27th at Centrum Judaicum. “Lost Childhood. Jewish Childhood Survivors” was organized by the Claims Conference in cooperation with the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendents (WFJCSD) and the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.
Internationally recognized experts provided a broad picture of the special suffering of Jewish children during the Holocaust and shed light on the particular situation of child survivors today. Witnesses who survived the Holocaust as children shared their experiences and spoke about their life after the Holocaust. An exhibit of the same name at Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum is being presented In conjunction with the symposium. The exhibit – a tribute to the special fate of Jewish child survivors of the Holocaust – was created by the Claims Conference in cooperation with “Agency for education. History, Politics and Media e.V.” and the “Pedagogical center of the Fritz Bauer Institut and Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.” The exhibit will travel throughout Germany over the course of the coming months and panels can be seen at www.jewishchildsurvivors.org
In 2014 the Claims Conference allocated a total of $302 million to 120 agencies in 44 countries to pay for homecare, food programs, medical care, dental work, emergency cash assistance and transportation for elderly Jewish Nazi victims worldwide, with substantial financial support (about $185 million in 2014) from the German Government The needs of Holocaust victims are different now than they were immediately following the war, but no less crucial. And as Holocaust victims age, the Claims Conference support has become even more important in helping every Jewish Nazi victim live out his or her years in dignity and comfort.
The Claims Conference negotiating delegation is comprised of Special Negotiator Amb. Stuart Eizenstat; Roman Kent, Co-Chair; Holocaust survivor leaders Amb. Colette Avital, Uri Chanoch, Ben Helfgott and Marian Turski; as well as Amb. Reuven Merhav, Rabbi Andrew Baker; and Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneiderand Ruediger Mahlo, Claims Conference Representative in Germany.