NEW YORK (Apr. 25)
The new East German government has followed up its April 12 declaration of a moral responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich with a monetary pledge to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
On Monday, East Berlin announced a stipend of $3.65 million to AMCHA, an Israeli foundation that provides psychological care and aid to victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
An East German branch of the foundation that is being set up to service the approximately 400 registered Jews in that country will receive an additional $59,000.
Although the grant is not being called reparations, the award represents the first gesture of East German aid to Holocaust victims.
The former Communist regime had previously accepted no responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich, saying that East Germany became a national entity only in 1949, years after the end of the Holocaust.
West Germany, on the other hand, has already accepted moral culpability for its Nazi past, and has awarded in excess of $47 billion in reparations to Jewish Holocaust survivors.
Jewish claims organizations are not all satisfied with the East German gesture, however.
The New York-based Conference on Material Claims Against Germany, the organization that has overseen West German reparations and is initiating formal reparations negotiations with the East German government, feels that the AMCHA grant may be misinterpreted as official reparations.
A CALL FOR TALKS TO BEGIN
According to the conference, calls have already been received in their New York office requesting information about individual reparations payments in response to Monday’s announcement.
The conference also says that the AMCHA grant cannot be called a serious response to the issue of moral and material responsibility to the victims of the Holocaust.
“The making of a modest contribution to a social agency in no way responds to the resolution of the East German parliament to bring about a just solution to the Jewish claims,” said Dr. Israel Miller, president of the claims conference.
On April 13, Miller wrote to East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere welcoming the government’s declaration of responsibility and calling for reparations talks to begin promptly.
A joint committee of the claims conference and the Israeli government was set up in February for that purpose, but no headway could be made until after the East German elections.