Ambassador ( Ret.) Stuart E. Eizenstat: “This is the first time in recorded history that a defeated nation in a war has voluntarily paid compensation to individual civilian victims.”
Germany agreed to one of its most extensive financial reparations packages ever to the world’s remaining Jewish Holocaust survivors.
The compensation package was announced during an event in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Luxembourg Agreements. Chancellor Scholz, Finance Minister Lindner, Israeli Social Equality Minister Merav Cohen, and Gideon Taylor, CEO of the Claims Conference, were among the participants.
The total 2023 reparations package for survivors worldwide amounts to $1.2 billion. The funds, which will be disbursed next year, will mostly help cover health care costs of an aging and dwindling population of survivors. Germany will also offer funding for Holocaust remembrance education for the first time, according to the Jewish Claims Conference, the negotiating body for reparations.
“Seventy years later, we still stand in the shadow of the six million murdered Jews,” Gideon Taylor, the president of the Claims Conference, said. “Their suffering still haunts the Jewish people and the German people.”
Negotiators of the new reparations said the decision to offer special funds for Ukrainian Holocaust survivors had been inspired by conversations with older survivors who were evacuated from Ukraine under harrowing circumstances in the wake of Russia’s invasion in February.
Stuart Eizenstat, JPPI’s Co-Chair and the lead reparations negotiator since 2009, described speaking with nonagenarian Ukrainian women who had been brought to Germany on the day before the latest rounds of compensation talks began. He said they had endured a 42-hour ambulance ride to reach Germany, and one feared that she was too frail to ever return to her country. “The lady beside her said: ‘I would love to go back, but I don’t have a family to go to. They were all killed in the Holocaust, and now my village has been destroyed by the Russians,” he recalled.
“That’s why these funds are so important,” he added. “These people suffered the greatest indignities as a youth, and we have to do everything we can to make sure they live with as much dignity as possible.”
Eizenstat emphasized: “The Luxembourg Agreements laid the foundation for all subsequent compensations for survivors of Nazi persecution. Never before in human history has the defeated power paid compensation to civilians for losses and suffering. It is a monumental achievement, which shows the commitment of the German people to recognize the evils of their former Nazi society.”
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