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Nazi-era ghetto laborers get pension

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More Holocaust survivors who worked in ghettos will receive compensation from Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday the creation of a $137 million fund to pay laborers who failed to meet criteria for social security pensions under Germany’s 2002 Ghetto Pension Law.

German government pensions have been available since 1997 to survivors who were employed for remuneration during their internment in Nazi ghettos annexed to the Third Reich. The law was expanded in 2002, but the expansion added only about 9,000 of 70,000 new applicants, according to the Claims Conference. This latest change loosens criteria specified in the 2002 law, and will yield payments to an estimated additional 50,000 survivors, the conference said.

The Claims Conference, which has been pressing the cause, called Merkel’s decision a “positive step.” The group, however, criticized the maximum individual payment of about $2,800 as insufficient, suggesting the proposed criteria for eligibility be “clarified and revised.”

Further information is available at the Claims Conference’s Web site, at www.claimscon.org, though the program is being administered wholly by the German government, not the Claims Conference.

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