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Hungarian survivors to receive next round of Swiss payments

BERN, Dec. 22 (JTA) — Some 20,000 Hungarian Holocaust survivors will soon receive checks from a Swiss fund for needy survivors. The checks, which come in the wake of a similar payment last month to Latvian survivors, will total $400 each, according to officials involved with the payments. The payments will be distributed in January, they said. The Holocaust Memorial Fund was established in February by Switzerland’s three largest banks amid allegations that the Swiss banks were hoarding the wealth of Holocaust victims. Hungarian survivors are now receiving only $400 of the $1,000 they are slated to get because only $11 million of the fund’s total of nearly $200 million has been allocated so far. Officials with the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which has been overseeing the distribution of checks, approved a blueprint last month for allocating the remaining portion of the Swiss fund — over and above the $11 million already approved — to be distributed to Jewish survivors. The fund’s executive board is expected to ratify those allocations at a Jan. 20 board meeting, after which the additional $600 will be distributed. Not all of the fund’s assets will be given to Jewish survivors. About 10 percent of the fund is being set aside to help non-Jewish victims of the war, such as Catholics, Gypsies and homosexuals. Earlier this month, 23 Albanians became the first non-Jewish recipients of the fund.