To the Editors:
It is appropriate that President Obama will speak next week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in commemoration of Yom Hashoah. Remembering the victims of the Holocaust and the lessons of the Shoah is an indispensable act for any American president. However, there is an overarching need to account for those who survived, many of whom are in desperate need today. For the past 3 1/2 years, the Obama administration has engaged in policies that are extremely detrimental to the living survivors among us. Is the president aware of these policies and the pain they are causing survivors?
Contrary to common sense, and to commitments made during the Obama-Biden campaign, this administration has consistently supported European insurance companies who defrauded Holocaust victims and dishonored our family insurance policies, even though the insurers failed to pay billions they owe to victims families. This is not acceptable — we are not only U.S. citizens, many survivors are American veterans and veterans of the Korean War. Yet because of the actions of the State and Justice departments, Holocaust survivors are second-class citizens under U.S. law. How can this be?
Further, tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors — 50 percent of the American survivor population — live in or near poverty. Why would this administration block survivors from recovering the long-overdue debts owed by the wealthiest corporations in the world like Allianz, Generali and AXA? In March, the State Department again relied on a familiar litany of inaccurate statements in opposing legislation with broad bipartisan support that would restore survivors’ rights. The Foreign Affairs Committee rejected State’s bogus claims and passed the bill unanimously.
President Obama, when you speak about the dead next week, remember that you are speaking about our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Our lives were turned upside down by the most cruel and murderous regime in history, and we were stripped of everything dear to us. When this administration blocks us from access to the truth about our family legacies, it is denying us more than the money owed — it is denying our histories. Isn’t it time you rise above whatever influences are at work in your administration and support Holocaust survivors in pursuit of our legitimate rights and interests?
President, Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA