German Psychologist Offers Payment to Czech Survivors

A German psychologist has met with Jewish community representatives in a one-man mission to offer some compensation to Czech victims of Nazism.

Thomas Thun offered to pay what he termed a “symbolic pension” of about $70 a month to a Czech Holocaust survivor.

The offer came during meetings with members of the Federation of Jewish Communities and the Terezin Initiative, which represents victims of the Holocaust.

The federation’s executive director, Tomas Kraus, said Thun’s gesture was “welcome and appreciated,” but he insisted that compensation come from the German government, not private individuals.

The donation will probably go toward a Holocaust and World War II memorial fund instead, Kraus said.

The governments in Bonn and Prague are now working on a Czech-German declaration that, among other issues, should resolve the question of compensation for Holocaust victims.

The declaration is expected after the summer.

Kraus said some 1,500 survivors of the Holocaust live in the Czech Republic.

Thun, whose father’s family was expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1946, said he made his gesture after hearing a “rough exchange” on the radio between the Czech ambassador to Germany and a Sudeten German expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, and after watching a television program in which a Catholic priest urged Czechs and Germans to exchange apologies and “to start taking action.”

Thun said many Germans watching his story on German television will be surprised to learn that Czech victims of the Holocaust — unlike their neighbors in Poland — are still waiting to be compensated by the German government.

“Quite a lot of Germans still don’t know that,” said Thun, who was also scheduled to meet with President Vaclav Havel this week.

“Maybe now more people will offer” to give similar donations, he added.

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