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July 12, 2011
For the first time, after nearly two decades of Claims Conference negotiations, Jewish Holocaust victims in European Union (EU) countries of Eastern Europe will receive payments acknowledging their suffering in the Shoah (Holocaust).
The Claims Conference announced today at its annual meeting of the Board of Directors the creation of the Holocaust Victim Compensation Fund for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution living in Eastern European countries. Residents of the 10 former Soviet bloc countries that are now members of the European Union who meet the criteria of the new fund will receive a one-time payment of €1,900 (approximately $2,660). Based on welfare programs that the Claims Conference funds in those countries, it is estimated that about 7,000 Holocaust victims will benefit. The total distribution under the program is estimated to be €13.4 million (approximately $19 million).
The Hardship Fund of the Claims Conference has approved approximately 350,000 Holocaust victims originally from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but only those currently living in the West may receive payments. The Claims Conference has maintained for a number of years that victims who suffered the same persecutions should be entitled to the same compensation regardless of where they live today.
When the Hardship Fund was established in 1980, the German government did not want to make payments to Nazi victims behind the Iron Curtain out of concern that the Communist governments would confiscate the payments. But with the Soviet Union having dissolved 20 years ago, the Claims Conference has continually pressed the case for payments to victims still living in those countries.
The Claims Conference continues to negotiate with the German government about the possibility of expanding the new program into former communist countries that are not members of the EU, where the need of Nazi victims is arguably the greatest.
The program will start as of September 1, 2011, when application forms will be available and the application deadline will be June 30, 2013. The program will be available in the following countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Jewish victims of Nazi persecution may be eligible if they have not received previous compensation payments such as from the Central and Eastern European Fund or the Budapest Fund. Eligibility criteria and additional information will be available soon.