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Holocaust survivors struggle to receive insurance payouts

JTA

June 2, 2011 | 9:59 am

Holocaust survivors continue to face roadblocks, including the United States government, in collecting on insurance policies taken out before the war.

Aging survivors trying to reclaim insurance policies face opposition from the State Department over concerns that pressing claims could undermine an agreement reached in 2000 between the United States and Germany, which resulted in $300 million paid to survivors and their heirs, the New York Times reported.

“The State Department is concerned that lawsuits by the survivors could not only disrupt prior agreements with European governments but might also have a negative impact on other reparation agreements growing out of the Holocaust as well,” the department said in a statement to the Times.

Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, have voiced their opposition to survivors bringing their claims to court so as not to disrupt previous agreements. In September, Congress heard testimony on proposed legislation that would make it easier to pursue such action. No such legislation has ever been successful.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who sponsored similar legislation in March, told the New York Times she hopes this year will be different.

“This will not usurp anybody’s authority,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “This is about giving the survivors their day in court. We’ve already waited too long.”

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