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New group for child survivors

PRAGUE, Nov. 11 (JTA) — A new pan-European organization will reach out to Jewish child survivors of the Holocaust who are not yet represented by other groups. The European Association of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, formed in Prague, will represent the interests of European child survivors in dealing with institutions such as the Claims Conference, and will encourage and coordinate events of mutual interest at a European level. The organization originally was conceived by members of Hidden Child-Praha — a Czech support group for people forced into hiding to escape the Nazis — during the annual conference of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, held here in 1999. Other organizations representing Holocaust survivors — such as the Terezin Initiative — and Kindertransport survivors have expressed support for the new project. Representatives from nine countries met to lay the foundations of the new association — Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. The organization has the support of the U.S.-based World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust. The Europeans are keen to dismiss suggestions that the new association was set up because the World Federation had failed to represent the interests of European victims. "We are not a breakaway group," said Vera Egermayer, spokesperson for Hidden Child-Praha. "On the contrary we have had a lot of support, both moral and practical, from the World Federation. There is complete cooperation. In fact, we will bring the World Federation new members because we have managed to ferret out individuals and groups they had not been able to reach." For example, Egermayer said, the organization recently succeeded in reaching a Croatian group that had just been formed. She said that while organizations at a local and national level had been around for the last decade, there was nothing on a regional level in Europe. The idea is to bring in both established Western European groups and, above all, outlying places in Eastern Europe. The World Federation mainly consists of groups from the United States with some European members, many of whom could be more involved.

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