Following negotiations with the Claims Conference, Germany has agreed to loosen the criteria for payment to certain survivors of ghettos.
Under the new rules, which go into effect Jan. 1, any Jew who spent at least 12 months in a ghetto, in hiding or living under a false identity will be eligible for a monthly pension ranging from $350 to approximately $400. Until now, the minimum time requirement was 18 months. The change will add an estimated 8,000 survivors to the pensions, which come from the Article 2 Fund and the Central and Eastern European Fund.
Germany also has agreed to provide special pension payments to those who spent three to 12 months in a ghetto and are older than 74. The change is aimed at survivors of the Budapest ghetto, which operated from November 1944 to January 1945, and is expected to affect about 4,500 survivors next year and another 3,500 survivors once they hit age 75. The payments will amount to about $325 per month for survivors in the United States and $270 per month for those living in Eastern Europe.
“This momentous agreement reached is the result of many months of intense negotiations and effectively closes the chapter on gaps in compensation for ghetto survivors,” Stuart Eizenstat, special negotiator for the Claims Conference, said in a statement. “We will continue to press for greater liberalizations to ensure that no Holocaust survivor is deprived of the recognition that each deserves.”
In all, the Claims Conference estimates that the changes will result in an additional $650 million in payments to survivors.
“We have long emphasized to the German government that they cannot quantify the suffering of a Holocaust survivor who lived in the hell of a ghetto,” Julius Berman, chairman of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.
Last week, Germany had announced additional one-time payments from its Ghetto Fund for “non-forced” laborers.