Sixty years ago representatives from Israel, Germany and the newly created conference on Jewish material Claims Against Germany met to hammer out a reparations agreement for the crimes of Nazi Germany when some Holocaust survivors were still living in displaced Persons camps on the continent.
According to a recent report by the Jewish Journal, Germany has paid the equivalent of more than 70 billion to survivors and programs that aid survivors. Israel and Germany have become close allies. Germany has made Holocaust education a centerpiece of its identity, creating school curricula, building Holocaust museums and funding anti-Semitism eradication programs.
This week Germany took the additional step to fund an estimated 80,000 more Nazi victims to those it provides with one–time payments of about $3,150. The change, which is expected to affect mostly survivors in Russia and Ukraine, opens the door to funding for the last major group of Nazi victims who have never received money from Germany.
In addition, Germany has agreed to equalize the monthly pensions it sends to some 60,000 survivors around the world. All survivors will now receive the equivalent of approximately $370 per month.
While the claims conference administers Germany’s restitution programs, it also makes allocations of its own from the so-called Successor Organization, which is the legal beneficiary of money from the sale of Jewish-owned properties in the former East Germany for which no heirs have come forward.
“The Germany government is assuming even greater responsibility than before,” said Werner Gatzer, state secretary of German Finance Ministry, who made these remarks at the 60th anniversary event in Washington, DC. “This is much more than just financial compensation. It’s about the recognition of all these individual, person destinies that need to be heard and preserved.”
Eyeing the next round of negotiations, among the items on Jewish wish list is to consider funding survivors of so-called open ghettos-unfenced areas where Jews were forced to live, and the provision that there even be compensation for those survivors who are well off who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
The Senators of North Carolina who blocked restitution for persons in their state who were sterilized against their will should note this healing process of Germany and reconsider adding back into the state budget funds to compensate these victims.