NEW YORK (Jul. 17)
More than 71,500 Holocaust survivors from around the world have received grants totaling more than $200 million from the “hardship fund” of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Dr. Israel Miller, president of the conference, reported the figures Thursday at the biennial meeting of the conference’s board of directors in Tarrytown, N.Y.
He said that since the establishment of the conference in 1980, the hardship fund had received 133,000 applications for reparations from Holocaust survivors in 23 countries.
Miller told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Friday that the Claims Conference is “processing the rest of the applications and is negotiating for additional funds from the government of West Germany,” because “it is expected that more Holocaust survivors will apply for payments, and more funds are therefore needed.”
The fund has been in the news recently, because the former chairman of the West German Jewish community, the late Werner Nachmann, is said to have embezzled millions of dollars paid into the fund by the West German government.
The hardship fund was established to provide one-time grants primarily to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who emigrated from Eastern Europe after 1965, the year that the filing period for the claims under the German Federal Indemnification Law expired.
$200 MILLION COMMITMENT
Miller told JTA that the German government committed about $200 million for that purpose.
Miller said that “most beneficiaries of the hardship fund are elderly Holocaust survivors who are now citizens of Israel,” with more than a quarter of them living in the United States.
Members of the board called upon the West German government to allocate sufficient funds to ensure that all eligible claimants receive the payments they are entitled to.
As for reparations from East Germany, Miller said, “We have been negotiating for several years with the East German Democratic Republic to secure funds for urgent programs that will benefit Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. We shall continue to vigorously pursue these negotiations.”
“Our task is far from finished,” Miller asserted. “Nearly 180,000 Jewish victims of the Nazis throughout the world who currently receive payments from Germany look to the Claims Conference for the protection of their interests.”
The board also discussed the status of negotiations with the Austrian government.
“Notwithstanding our extensive efforts and negotiations since 1953, there remains serious deficiencies in Austria’s compensation legislation affecting thousands of Jews victimized by the Nazis,” Miller said.
The board of directors, which includes representatives of 22 major international Jewish organizations, as well as delegates from major Jewish communities around the world, re-elected Miller as the organization’s president.
Lionel Kopelowitz of Great Britain, Akiva Lewinsky of Israel and David de Rothschild of France were elected vice presidents. Saul Kagan of New York was re-elected executive director and secretary.