BERLIN (JTA) — Needy Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe will receive major increases in monthly payments from Germany.
The raise follows intensive negotiations between Germany and the Claims Conference that ended Thursday in Berlin.
According to the agreement, an additional estimated $80 million will be paid over the next 10 years to approximately 13,000 Holocaust survivors in 22 countries. In addition, there will be major increases in monthly payments from the Central and Eastern European Fund, or CEEF, to survivors in European Union and non-EU countries, bringing the two groups to parity.
As of next January, recipients of CEEF pensions will receive about $339 per month, which represents a 35 percent increase for those in non-EU countries and an 11 percent increase for EU residents.
The agreement "reinforces for me the commitment I saw during the lengthy negotiations [for the Clinton administration] with the Germans to continue their moral responsibility," Stuart Eizenstat, the former U.S. deputy treasury secretary and a special negotiator for the Claims Conference, told JTA in a telephone interview following Thursday’s talks with the German Ministry of Finance, represented by state secretary Karl Diller.
Roman Kent, one of several survivors on the negotiating team and a board member of the International Auschwitz Committee, said that many of the survivors in Eastern Europe live well below the poverty level.
"They lack money for food, medicine and fuel," he told JTA. "And time is not the best medicine for the survivor," many of whom are alone in later years. "And when you are older, you think about what happened not yesterday but what happened 60, 70 years ago."
Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, said there would be an unprecedented second meeting before the end of this year to deal with open questions such as home care funds for 2010.