A free comprehensive guide that describes the dozens of compensation and restitution programs available to Holocaust survivors is being made available by Jewish social service agencies nationwide.
In the New York area, 13 agencies will be distributing the 50-page booklet prepared by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It explains the current and pending restitution and compensation programs, the criteria for eligibility and how to apply.
"It is our hope that this important publication helps survivors and their heirs with the often confusing process of learning about what is available and what may become available," said Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the Claims Conference. "No amount of money can ever ‘make good again,’ but we must persevere in our efforts. Ultimately, this is an issue of morality."
Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, noted that the booklet’s publication comes "at a time when there is a lot of activity concerning restitution and compensation. We hope this will help survivors and their heirs better understand where things stand."
Taylor said four new restitution and compensation tracks were still being negotiated:n
# Brooklyn Federal Judge Edward Korman on Nov. 29 will hear from interested parties regarding the fairness of the proposed $1.25 billion settlement offered by Swiss banks and the Swiss government. Korman is expected to issue a final ruling early next year; a plan for distribution of the payments is to be signed by April 28.
# A $3.3 billion offer in September by Germany and German industry to compensate primarily the victims of slave and forced labor was rejected by the Claims Conference, the State of Israel and five Eastern European governments. A new round of negotiations is scheduled for next week.
# An agreement was reached last week between Bank Austria, attorneys for survivors and their heirs, and the Claims Conference to pay $40 million for claims against the bank stemming from looting of accounts that began in 1938 with the bank’s participation. Another $5 million is to be paid to the Claims Conference to help needy Holocaust victims from Austria. At the insistence of the conference, 1,400 Austrian businesses that were to have been included in the settlement will not be released from liability for their actions against Jews and the use of slave labor.
# The Insurance Commission on Holocaust-Era Assets will launch a claims process early next year for those who may have had unpaid Holocaust-era insurance polices written by five major European insurance companies. These firms have agreed to publish lists of names of unclaimed policies, although details are yet to be worked out.
# Ongoing compensation payments from Germany continue to be administered by the Claims Conference, which is continually pressing for the liberalization of the German-imposed criteria for payments. To date, $45 billion has been paid by Germany to Holocaust survivors in 45 countries, including the United States.