BERLIN Sixty years after a landmark accord started German government compensation for victims of Nazi crimes, fund administrators and German officials say payments to Holocaust survivors are needed more than ever as they enter their final years.
Most Holocaust survivors experienced extreme trauma as children, suffered serious malnutrition, and lost almost all of their relatives — leaving them today with severe psychological and medical problems, and little or no family support network to help them cope.
In acknowledgement of that, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble signed off officially Thursday on revisions to the original 1952 compensation treaty, increasing pensions for those living in eastern Europe and broadening who is eligible for payments. Contributions to home care for survivors already have been increased.
“Survivors are passing away on a daily basis but the other side is that individual survivors are needing more help than ever,” the Chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Julius Berman, said.
“While a person came out of the camps very young and eventually developed a life of their own over the years, the impact of what happened at the beginning is now coming to the fore. Whether it’s mentally or physically, they’re sicker than their peers of the same age.”
Germany has paid — primarily to Jewish survivors — some $89 billion in compensation overall for Nazi crimes since the agreement was signed in 1952.
In one change to the treaty that Germany agreed to earlier this year, the country will provide compensation payments to a new category of Nazi victims — some 80,000 Jews who fled ahead of the advancing German army and mobile killing squads and eventually resettled in the former Soviet Union.
They became eligible Nov. 1 for one-time payments of $3,253. The amendment also formalizes an increase in pensions for Holocaust survivors living in formerly communist eastern Europe to the same as those living elsewhere — $382 per month — from the $255 to $331 they had been receiving.