Film targets Claims Conference


Israeli lawmakers are calling for a probe of the Claims Conference for allegedly funding groups not related to Holocaust survivors. 

The calls followed the airing in Israel of a new documentary film alleging that the Claims Conference has been funding groups unrelated to the Holocaust at the expense of needy survivors.

The Claims Conference is the body that transfers billions of dollars in reparations money from Germany and Austria to Holocaust survivors. It also allocates tens of millions of dollars per year from the sale of unclaimed Holocaust-era Jewish assets. Those allocations have been dogged by controversy. 

The Israeli film, “Morals of Restitution, The Fight Goes On,” which aired Wednesday on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day , is a sequel to a film on the same subject shown last year.

Knesset member Zevulun Orlev said the Knesset’s State Control Committee will hold “an urgent” meeting to discuss the film’s allegations. 

A Tel Aviv law firm representing the Claims Conference lobbied Israel’s Channel 2 not to air the film, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The film contrasted scenes of sumptuous banquets hosted by organizations funded by the Claims Conference with interviews with survivors who said they were hungry and in need of medical care. One survivor interviewed said, “What Hitler didn’t finish off, the Claims Conference will.”

Heirs of Holocaust-era assets complained they had not been contacted by the Claims Conference and have no access to the properties their grandparents and parents left behind in the former East Germany. Some survivors interviewed said their claims are not being dealt with promptly or at all by the Claims Conference. 

Claims Conference officials rejected the film’s assertions.

“This organization is scrutinized by the German government, the United States tax authority, an internal Israeli comptroller and the internal Austrian comptroller, and no fault has been found with its financial administration,” said Reuven Merhav, the chairman of the Israeli Directorate of the Claims Conference. “It is unacceptable for such a film to be based on lies and the wounds in the hearts of survivors, which led them to voice all these lies.” 

The Claims Conference has negotiated more than $70 billion in German reparations since 1950, according to the group.

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