Congressional fight on for survivor funds

A U.S. Congressional hearing has drawn attention to the dearth of funds awarded to Holocaust survivors.

Florida Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Fl.) led a hearing on Oct. 3 on Capitol Hill to show how few funds the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims awarded to Holocaust survivors between 1998 and the time it closed its doors this spring.

Wexler has drafted The Holocaust Insurance Equitability Act (H.R. 1746) to seek an opening of insurance company records in Europe and grant American survivors the ability to have their claims addressed in United States Federal Court. Wexler, who heads the Subcommittee of Europe of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he heard testimony from survivors who’d been denied their insurance claims by the international Holocaust commission.

Alex Moskovic, a Boca Raton resident who at the age of 14 was the only member of his family to survive the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald concentration camps, told the committee that he’d found evidence of his relatives’ life insurance policies on the commission’s website, but had only received a $1,000 humanitarian award, as did 31,000 of the 48,000 survivors who received restitution through the program. Wexler estimates that only three to five percent of Holocaust survivors’ insurance policies have been paid.

No representatives from the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims testified during the hearing, but the commission’s director, Lawrence Eagleburger, said last month in a letter to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer that he firmly believed “that our efforts brought some measure of justice to the lives of thousands of survivors.”

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