PRAGUE (Nov. 19)
A group of Czech Holocaust survivors has sent a letter to the German government denouncing its refusal to provide individual compensation to survivors in the Czech Republic.
In a Nov. 12 letter, the Petitions Committee of Czech Holocaust Victims called on German legislators to fulfill their “international, legal and moral commitments toward the remaining” Czech survivors or risk sullying Germany’s reputation.
The letter is part of a campaign by Czech survivors to have Germany go beyond a commitment it made in a German-Czech declaration that was signed in January.
The declaration called for the establishment of a fund to finance community projects for Czech survivors, but did not call for individual compensation.
Germany will provide the fund with about $76 million, and the Czech government will contribute about $12.9 million.
The declaration, which was negotiated for almost two years, was intended to ease long-standing tensions rooted in Germany’s wartime occupation of Czech lands and the subsequent deportation of Sudeten Germans from postwar Czechoslovakia.
Jewish leaders complained at the time of the pact’s signing that Germany did not comment on the Holocaust in the declaration, which stated that Germany “regrets the suffering and iniquities inflicted on the Czech people.”
German officials are currently negotiating with the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany about compensation payments to Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.
In August, the German government and officials of the Claims Conference announced the establishment of a joint commission, which is expected to make its proposals before the end of the year.
Germany has paid more than $54 billion in compensation to Holocaust survivors since World War II.
However, those living in Soviet-bloc countries were unable to apply for compensation during the Cold War.
Czech Jews have speculated that Germany’s reluctance to compensate survivors in Eastern Europe stems from fears that such a move would pave the way for compensation requests from non-Jews who suffered under Nazism.
There are about 6,500 Holocaust survivors in the Czech Republic.