Historians dispute Holocaust ‘survivor’ and ‘refugee’ labels
By Ofri Ilani

The agreement that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed with representatives of Holocaust survivors’ organizations ensures a monthly stipend for all Israelis who lived under Nazi occupation. However, more than 150,000 people, defined as “Holocaust refugees” or the “second circle” of survivors, are not included in this arrangement. Holocaust historians disagree over the morality and logic of such a division.

Who are the refugees? In 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland, some 300,000 Jews, mostly Polish, headed for the Soviet Union. In June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, some of these refugees found themselves under Nazi domination for two years. Others fled eastward, together with Jews from the western regions of the Soviet Union, to Siberia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other areas. In many cases, the Soviet regime even deported the Jews in these regions to Siberia and central Asia.