Category Archive: Claims Conference

Albright visits Terezín

Terezin – Former U.S. secretary of state Czech-born Madeleine Albright made her palm print for a gallery in Terezin today and on this occasion she recalled 24 members of her family who died in various concentration camps during World War Two.
The gallery is situated in the former garrison town of Terezin that served as a ghetto for European Jews during World War Two, while the nearby Small Fortress turned into a Gestapo prison.
Albright learnt about her Jewish origin only in the other half of the 1990s when journalists revealed that her grandparents and many other relative became the Holocaust victims.
more

Embattled Claims Conference names ombudsman

The Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, better known as the Claims Conference, appointed former government administrator Shmuel Hollander as its ombudsman, the group announced on Tuesday. Hollander – who served as a Civil Service commissioner under Prime Ministers Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon and Olmert – will be tasked with overseeing the activities of the organization, which represents Jewish victims of the Nazis and their allies in talks with European governments over compensation.
more

Israeli journalists apologize to Claims Conference over controversial film

An Israeli couple, both renowned journalists, issued an apology Monday, over a film they directed, to the Jewish organization responsible for negotiating with Germany on restitution for Holocaust survivors.
The film, “Moral Reparations – The Struggle Continues”, charges that The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany – better known as the Claims Conference – has “more than $1 billion” in its accounts and is withholding it from needy survivors. In 2008, the Claims Conference filed a NIS 4 million libel suit against the journalists, stating that “the film is a cruel and distorted calumny,” is “replete with false factual allegations,” and that “the spirit of the film is sometimes anti-Semitic.” The timing of the television broadcast in Israel – on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2008 – “turned the Claims Conference into the enemy of the Jewish people.” The libel suit was filed on September 4, 2008.
Three years later, the sides reached an agreement whereby the journalists, Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, together with the production company Shamayim Productions Ltd., issued an official apology and committed to paying NIS 150,000 to the Claims Conference.
more

Claims Conference Urges German Government to Extend Retroactive “Ghetto Pension” Payments

The Claims Conference expressed its disappointment about today’s ruling of the highest German Social Court that most Holocaust survivors receiving so-called “Ghetto Pensions” from Germany (German Social Security for work in ghettos) will not get payments retroactive to 1997 as had been hoped.
Ghetto Pension back payments are made retroactively for four years, with a maximum dating back to 2005. The German Federal Social Court ruled that the 2002 legislation establishing Ghetto Pensions (ZRBG), calling for payments to be made in principle retroactively to 1997, does not supersede the four-year retroactive limit that has been used in accordance with general Social Security guidelines. However, the Bundestag is considering legislation that will make the Ghetto Pension payments retroactive to 1997.
“The Claims Conference regrets that the German Federal Court did not award Ghetto Pension payments dating back to 1997. Ghetto survivors endured the most horrific conditions possible while laboring just to stay alive. In their old age, these additional payments could help bring them the security and recognition that they were denied so many decades ago. We appeal to the German Government and to the German Bundestag to look for a political solution. Time is more than pressing to provide a measure of justice to these elderly survivors,” said Julius Berman, Claims Conference Chairman.
Ghetto survivors who have not yet applied for the Ghetto Pension should do so at once. Information on applying for the Ghetto Pension and the related one-time payments of the Ghetto Fund, and criteria, are at www.claimscon.org/ghettopension. These are not Claims Conference programs. Survivors must apply to the relevant German Social Security offices (DRV) listed on the Claims Conference website.
The Claims Conference is reaching out to survivors of Nazi ghettos and to the agencies that work with them in an effort to ensure that every potential claimant has a chance to claim both the Ghetto Fund one-time payment and the Ghetto Pension. Since 2010, the German government has been reconsidering more than 56,000 previously denied claims for the Ghetto Pension and will contact applicants whose claims have been accepted. All of these claims have now been reviewed.

Germany adds payouts to some Soviet flight cases

Germany has agreed to changes to one of its restitution programs that will add payouts of approximately $3,300 to some 10,000 Jews, the Claims Conference announced. The changes, which will affect the Hardship Fund, will expand the class of World War II survivors eligible for one-time payouts to those who fled Soviet areas that were never occupied by the Nazis but were within about 62 miles of the Nazi line. Until now, only survivors from areas that eventually were occuppied by the Nazis were eligible.
more

Germany giving pensions to 16,000 Holocaust survivors, but not some younger ghetto inhabitants

NEW YORK — After a year of tough negotiations, Germany has agreed to pay pensions to about 16,000 additional Holocaust victims worldwide — mostly survivors who were once starving children in Nazi ghettos, or were forced to live in hiding for fear of death. The agreement announced Monday between the New York-based Claims Conference and the German government is “not about money — it’s about Germany’s acknowledgment of these people’s suffering,” said Greg Schneider, the conference’s executive vice president.
more

8 new arrests in $57 million fraud at Claims Conference

NEW YORK– Eight additional people were arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the fraud at the Claims Conference, which now tops $57 million. The arrests Oct. 12 brought the total number of arrests in the case to 30. Of the eight new suspects named by the U.S. Attorney’s Office — Henry Gordin, Genrikh Kolontyrskiy, Viktor Levin, Ella Voskresenskiy, Zlata Blavatnik, Pyotr Blavatnik, Yevgeniya Abramovich and Asya Galindo — five are former Claims Conference employees.

Stock of former Nazi chemicals giant to be delisted

More than 80 years after IG Farben was founded the chemicals company once closely linked to the Nazi regime is having its stock pulled from the market. It’s the final step in a liquidation process which stretched over decades.During World War II, IG Farben used thousands of forced laborers from the Auschwitz-Monowitz camp at its factory there. One of the company’s subsidiaries produced Zyklon B, which was used to kill prisoners in gas chambers. A number of Nobel-prize winning scientists also worked for the company during its history.IG Farben was once the world’s largest chemicals company, and the Allied powers ordered it dismantled after 1945. Several of IG Farben’s top executives were tried in Nuremberg and imprisoned at the time.
Companies including BASF, Bayer and Hoechst (now part of French Sanofi) were formed from the fragments of IG Farben, leaving behind a publically-traded shell company which declared bankruptcy in 2003. That shell – called “IG Farben in Liquidation” in full – was always intended to expire and gave victims an entity against which to make reparations claims.An 18-month lawsuit brought against IG Farben by Auschwitz-Monowitz survivor Norbert Wollheim in the early 1950’s resulted in 30 million Deutsche marks being paid to victims.Funds exhausted. According to the Frankfurt-area law office of bankruptcy administrator Angelika Wimmer-Amend, no new reparations claims have been made during the bankruptcy, and there isn’t enough money left to pay into Federal reparations funds.”No claims were made by victims of National Socialism during the bankruptcy proceedings,” her office told Deutsche Welle in a statement. “This is likely because the claims of Jewish concentration camp victims addressed as part of the Wollheim settlement.”
Non-Jewish concentration camp victims were compensated in a series of settlements which predate the company’s bankruptcy, according to the statement.

Final chapter

Peter Heuss, an historian with the Jewish Claims Conference in Frankfurt, says surviving Jews who were forced to work for IG Farben received a settlement of 5,000 Deutsche marks each.
“In (the 1950’s) that was a substantial sum,” he told Deutsche Welle. “This now is the final transaction of a dead company. The company has been bankrupt for many years.”
Part of the reason IG Farben is only now being shuttered is because legal disputes about foreign assets raged for years, according to Heuss.
“Liquidators believed they could still get money from somewhere, and in the end that failed,” he said.
Holocaust survivors have regularly protested against IG Farben.