The article “Holocaust Concert or Care for Survivors?” gave the impression that the two sides to the issue are the Holocaust survivors who only care for welfare while the Claims Conference only cares about concerts, remembrance and education.
As the representative of the largest umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors in the world, I would like to state loudly and clearly that nothing could be further from the truth.
Those who condemn the concert “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” don’t have the burden of negotiating with governments for funds for survivors. Many of those attending have greatly assisted in securing funds for Holocaust survivors in the past. To present them with this emotional, engaging and powerful multi-media experience will give them the tools necessary to aid in securing greater funds for needy survivors in the future.
However, the much greater debate over the total percentage of funding for Holocaust education and remembrance is extremely complex. Currently, the Claims Conference allocates less than 10 percent of its total funding to Holocaust education and remembrance, far lower than the original quota-rule of 80 percent for welfare and 20 percent for education and documentation. In some countries, like France and Holland, the priority is education and remembrance, perhaps because the governments understand the steady growth of Holocaust-denial.
Those of us who witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust carry the heavy but moral burden to never let people forget. I will never forget the note found in my father’s fist after he was shot dead by the S.S. It read, “Never let people forget what happened.” This was his last will, one that I must fulfill.
The Claims Conference is currently negotiating with Germany for additional funds, all of which go to welfare services for survivors during their final years. The U.S. administration and many of those in attendance at this compelling concert will be enlisted for this purpose. Without strong Holocaust remembrance and education, issues like reparations will fall off the agenda and the Holocaust-deniers will have won a final victory.
of Partisans, Underground Fighters and Ghetto Rebels in Israel
Claims Conference board and
allocations committee member