CHILD SURVIVOR FUND CREATED AT CLAIMS CONFERENCE
The Claims Conference has successfully negotiated a $250 million landmark agreement with the German government. As a result of last week’s negotiations, a new fund will be established, to be administered by the Claims Conference, for Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust. This joint fund will provide support to Shoah survivors around the world who lived under Nazi occupation and will enable them to receive symbolic financial compensation for the traumas suffered during their childhood. The payment from this fund represents an acknowledgement of the special trauma and hardship endured by children during the Shoah.
Our negotiating delegation emphasized to the German government that because Jewish children were in constant fear of death during the Holocaust, this trauma has overshadowed the rest of their lives. Early traumas are now resulting in late-onset physical and psychological problems that only now are appearing as concrete symptoms in their old age.
Those survivors of the Shoah who were born January 1, 1928 or later – the oldest of those would have been young children when Hitler came to power in 1933 – 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 agreement is subject to approval by the Bundestag and the Claims Conference. It is envisioned that the fund will become operational on Jan. 1, 2015. Approximately 25 percent of the funding for this program will come from the Claims Conference, with the remaining 75 percent provided by the German government. These were not easy negotiations – especially given the German government position that these survivors were already receiving pensions and therefore should not receive any additional payments. Ultimately, these payments represent acknowledgment of the special needs of those who endured the Shoah as children, especially 70 years later.
The agreement reached in the negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government comes on the heels of the first-ever symposium held in Berlin of Jewish child survivors, held on August 27 at Centrum Judaicum. The symposium – “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 Descendants (WFJCSD) and the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. In this context, I want to thank Claims Conference Board members Stefanie Seltzer and Max Lazar Arpels, who have given their hearts and souls to child survivor issues over the years.
During the symposium, internationally recognized experts provided a comprehensive sense of the special suffering endured by Jewish children during the Holocaust and shed light on the particular situation of child survivors today. This special symposium was the subject of last week’s email message from Greg Schneider.
We are all deeply grateful to Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, our Special Negotiator, who traveled to Berlin specifically for Thursday’s four-hour meeting, and returned to the U.S. that very afternoon. His dedication to helping Holocaust victims runs extraordinarily deep. Our thanks also goes to Roman Kent, who has been a driving force in negotiations with the German government, particularly regarding the homecare program, over the years. Amb. Colette Avital also deserves special acknowledgment for her active involvement in the child survivor fund negotiations.
The Claims Conference negotiating delegation comprises Amb. Eizenstat; Roman Kent, Co-Chair; Holocaust survivor leaders Amb. Colette Avital, Uri Chanoch, Ben Helfgott and Marian Turski; Amb. Reuven Merhav and Rabbi Andrew Baker; and Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider and the team of professionals from the Claims Conference led by Greg – including Rudi Mahlo, Representative in Germany, Karen Heilig, Christiane Reeh, and Konrad Matschke – who worked diligently to make this new fund a possibility.
These successful negotiations were a result of the skill of our negotiating delegation and their passion to bring a small measure of justice to those who had their childhoods cruelly ripped away. The Claims Conference continues to press for the liberalization of the criteria of other compensation programs so that every survivor can feel safe and cared-for in the last years of their lives.
Child Survivor Fund: Frequently Asked Questions
For additional information on this program, please see the announcement.
1. Who is eligible?
This fund is to recognize the specific and unique consequences of deprived childhood of Jews who survived the Holocaust as children.
Eligibility is open to those born January 1, 1928 or later AND who were persecuted as Jews in (I) concentration camp or (II) ghetto (or similar place of incarceration in accordance with the German Slave Labor Program) or (iii) in hiding or under false identity for a period of at least six months under Nazi occupied territory or 12 months in axis countries (in accordance with the persecution requirements of the Article 2 Fund).
2. What is the payment?
If eligible, each person is entitled to a one-time payment of euro 2,500.
3. When will the program begin?
Applications will become available as of January 1, 2015.
4. Is there a cost to apply?
No, application forms are free. There is no cost to apply.
5. Do I need a lawyer?
6. Can an heir apply?
No, applications can only be submitted by the child survivor.
7. Are heirs entitled?
If the child survivor applied, and subsequently dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to payment. If there is no surviving spouse, the child(ren) of the child survivor is entitled to the payment.
8. Is there an income limit?
9. If I already receive an indemnification pension, will I still be eligible?
Yes. No previous indemnification payments will bar eligibility under this fund.
10. Will there be an appeals process?
Yes, there will be an independent appeals process.
September 3, 2014