Claims Conference Visit to Iasi, Romania

Where Holocaust survivors of persecution receive first ever compensation pension.

“I remember every minute of my fear and my suffering,” commented Frances Flescher, Iasi pogrom survivor. “I suffered every single day – I’m not even talking about being hungry and thirsty. We were persecuted.”

Over the past 66 years, the Claims Conference has negotiated with the German government, constantly pushing to liberalize the criteria governing compensation for survivors. As a result of those annual negotiations with the German government, last summer we obtained recognition, for the first time, for the survivors of Iasi, who were forced to endure pogroms and death trains at the hands of Nazi soldiers and the Romanian authorities.

A Claims Conference team had the opportunity to visit Romania to make the announcement of the new eligibility in-person, meet the survivors who still lived in Iasi, and finalize the individual paperwork of all survivors applying for the compensation. Working together with our partners on the ground, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania and the JDC, we convened a luncheon at the Iasi Jewish Community Center, with local survivors. David Leventer, the Claims Conference Program Manager for Survivor Compensation in Iasi, was able to speak to and work with every single survivor in the room until everyone’s paperwork was complete.

We are pleased that those Iasi survivors have started receiving their pension payments. So far this includes survivors living in Romania, Israel, Canada, the U.S. and a handful of individuals living in Australia, Brazil, France and South Africa.

This year will mark 77 years since the atrocities perpetrated in Iasi and the surrounding area. While no amount of compensation can ever make whole or sufficiently remedy that which was destroyed, seized and lost during the Shoah, it is important that we keep fighting for every survivor warranting
Holocaust-related compensation and working to continue to liberalize the criteria governing the compensation programs.

Expanding the pension program to include Iasi survivors, at its core, is not about the financial compensation they will receive; it is about the recognition, the critical acknowledgment that provides Iasi survivors with some dignity, even decades later. Further, the compensation reminds survivors around the world that there is someone battling for them, and we will continue to fight for every last survivor.