Oct. 26, 2020
Faced with continuing COVID hardships, Holocaust survivors, including those in Canada, will see a rise in their benefits from Germany.
The increases were announced this month by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or the Claims Conference.
They result from the organization’s most recent negotiations with the German government on behalf of Holocaust survivors.
A statement from the Claims Conference to the CJR notes that there are currently 1,600 survivors in Canada who receive pensions from Germany that are administered by the Claims Conference. The current benefit of €513 (CAD $800) per month will increase to €580 (CAD $900) a month as of Jan. 1, 2021.
The most recent negotiations also resulted in two supplemental payments, each of €1,200 (about CAD $1,860), for survivors eligible under the conference’s Hardship Fund. The payments will be made in each of the next two years, for a total of €2,400 (CAD $3,725).
The Claims Conference estimates that approximately 5,000 Holocaust survivors in Canada will be eligible for supplemental payments under the Hardship Fund.
Additionally, the German government will directly provide to spouses of so-called BEG payment recipients who died after Jan. 1, 2020, and do not get a BEG spouse pension, a “transitional payment” of up to nine months. Some residents of Canada qualify for this program.
As for funds the Conference allocates to Jewish social service agencies in Canada for the welfare of Holocaust survivors, “we are assessing needs now and will have a final result by year’s end,” said a spokesperson.
For 2020, the Conference allocated over CAD $37 million for homecare, food, medicine, transportation, programs to alleviate social isolation, and other services. The recent negotiations resulted in a €30.5 million increase (approximately CDN $47 million) over last year in funding for social welfare services for Holocaust survivors.
“These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiation’s delegation during these unprecedented times will help our efforts to ensure dignity and stability in survivors’ final years,” said Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference.
The COVID pandemic “has adversely affected the elderly, and survivors have faced an onslaught of health, emotional, and financial hurdles,” the Conference stated in a recent news release.
The Conference estimates that approximately 240,000 survivors will be eligible for these additional payments. The largest populations reside in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union, and Western Europe.
In the negotiations with the Claims Conference, the German government agreed to expand the categories of survivors receiving direct compensation. Specifically, Germany accepted the results of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum regarding “open ghettos” in Bulgaria and the report from Yad Vashem on “open ghettos” in Romania, which together recognized 27 specific places as ghettos, thus enabling survivors of those places to receive compensation payments.