Skip to comments.German firms 'withhold' Nazi survivors' cash (HOLD MEIN BIER REDUX)
Posted on 10/27/2002 1:00:05 AM PST by MadIvan
German insurance companies have been accused of withholding millions of pounds in "administration costs" from a £64 million compensation fund for the relatives of Holocaust victims.
Appalling. My grandfather said that we needed to go to war with Germany every 40 years or so to remind them who is in charge. This sort of thing only heightens the impression - Ivan
Survivors of the Nazi genocide, many of them living in Britain, believe that the companies have deducted more than £15 million for researching claims from the heirs of those who died in the concentration camps.
They believed that the firms concerned had agreed to pay the costs for checking claims and calculating compensation, and are shocked that this amount will not now be available to victims.
The £64 million payout was agreed last month in settlement of thousands of life insurance policies taken out by German Jews before the Second World War.
After the end of the war the insurance companies refused to meet claims on behalf of those murdered because their relatives had no documents to validate their claims.
Rudy Kennedy, the chairman of the London-based Claims for Jewish Slave Labour Compensation, believed that under the original agreement, all expenses were to be paid by the German companies.
"What has happened is a travesty. The money should never have been used in this way. The more money you take away the less there is to pay to the people who really suffered," said Mr Kennedy, who survived being used as a slave labourer in three death camps and lost his parents and many relatives in Auschwitz and Belsen.
The companies have claimed that the costs were incurred in cross-checking 87,000 fresh claims for payment and compensation.
Moshe Sanbar, the chairman of the Centre of Organisations of Holocaust Survivors, in Israel, said that he was refusing to endorse the deal until German companies agreed to pay the costs.
"As a representative of Holocaust survivors and a Holocaust survivor myself, I cannot accept an agreement at the expense of victims and their heirs. No one said that the costs would end up being paid by the survivors."
The compensation is part of a broader £175 million agreement on settling Nazi-era insurance claims signed on September 19.
The cash was provided by the foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" - a fund set up by German industry and government to pay compensation to people used as wartime forced labour or victimised by the Nazis - under a deal negotiated by the International Commission for Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC), based in Washington.
"This agreement is a major step forward for many survivors and their heirs who previously had no readily available routes for pursuing valid German insurance claims," said Lawrence Eagleburger, the chairman of ICHEIC and a former United States secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, when the deal was signed.
Mr Kennedy and other groups seeking justice for Holocaust survivors do not agree with Mr Eagleburger's interpretation.
They have been angered that neither ICHEIC nor the foundation will say exactly how the £15 million - plus administration fees resulting in the total of £24 million - was spent, and also that Mr Eagleburger agreed that the sum could be deducted from the compensation fund.
Mr Kennedy added that in his opinion Mr Eagleburger's estimated £225,000 salary at ICHEIC, and his insistence on flying teams of commission officials to international meetings were partly to blame for running up the £24 million bill.
About £6 million was spent by the ICHEIC on worldwide publicity campaigns appealing for relatives of Holocaust victims to come forward.
Dale Franklin, a spokesman for the ICHEIC, denied that Mr Eagleburger's travelling had contributed to the costs. "He did one trip to the Czech Republic to encourage the government to assist us. Otherwise the only travelling was taking everybody to commission meetings," said Mr Franklin.
"I don't think it is true [that Holocaust survivors are being cheated]. I think it has been a difficult process, but I think it has been very successful."
Most of the claimants would never have succeeded in a court of law, lacking documents and names, he added. It was only because the ICHEIC had compiled databases of Jews living in Germany before the war, and had them cross-checked with insurance company archives, that compensation was possible.
Of the 87,000 registered claims, 29,000 have been disqualified because they come from the former Soviet Union, or their claims do not relate to insurance.
In only about 15,000 cases do the claimants know the name of the insurance company where a policy was held, and of those only about 7,000 relate to German firms.