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Test Case on Compensation for Nazi Camp Victims Won in Germany

Appearing in a test case at nearby Neustadt. Dr. H G. van Dam, Secretary-General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, succeeded in securing a Superior Court decision that sets aside the specious reasoning and strained legal argumentation, previously applied by certain Germans to exclude from the benefits of a clause in the amended Federal Indemnification Law for individual Nazi victims the survivors of such concentration camps as Theresienstadt and Oswiecim.

Until last year, Nazi war prisoners and ethnic German expellees or refugees who came to West Germany received financial support far more promptly and easily than German Jews who, for whatever reason, came back to the country of their birth and settled there. So as to put them on a footing comparable to returned German PW’s or refugees, the 1956 amendment to the Federal Indemnification Law contained a clause providing an “Immediate-aid” compensation payment for Nazi victims who had been former residents of Germany, If they emigrated from Germany due to Nazi persecution, or if they were deported or expelled, they are entitled, once they have returned to Germany on a permanent basis, to a $1, 425 allowance, half of which is later deducted from other indemnification grants.

In some German states, both the indemnification authorities and the lower courts have repeatedly ruled that Jews whom the Nazis shipped to concentration camps outside Germany, and who returned to Germany after the war. hadn’t been ‘deported” or “expelled” within the meaning of the law, and had no claim to the ” immediate-aid’ grant.

One particularly malignant verdict to that effect was handed down in December of last year by the Indemnification Chamber of the District Court at Frankenthal in the Rhineland Palatinate. The tribunal rejected a claim filed by Erna Vogler, a Jewish woman who had been deported from Neustadt and held at the Terezin concentration camp, which is in Czechoslovakia. She returned to Germany and to her home town of Neustadt in the summer of 1945, some months after Terezin had been liberated.

Mrs. Vogler’s attorney, Dr. Paul Mayer of Bad Duerkheim, and Dr. van Dam, who is himself an attorney, carried this suit to the Neustadt Superior Court On the basis of their legal and moral pleas, presiding judge Dr. Hoff overruled the Frankenthal verdict and upheld the right of Mrs, Vogler to obtain $1,425 in ‘ immediate-aid” indemnification from the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Finance, which had turned down her original application and fought her suit in the courts.

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