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Germany to give $662 million in Coronavirus aid to Holocaust survivors

Germany to give $662 million in Coronavirus aid to Holocaust survivors

The payments will go to approximately 240,000 survivors around the world over the next two years.

Germany has agreed to provide more than half a billion euros in Coronavirus relief aid to Holocaust survivors scattered across the globe as a means of easing their strife amid the pandemic. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany — a nonprofit that provides "a measure of justice" to Jewish Holocaust victims — announced Wednesday that the payments will go to approximately 240,000 survivors around the world over the next two years. The survivors, most of whom live in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union, and Western Europe, will receive two payments each of $1,400 beginning in December, reports PEOPLE.



 

The elderly Holocaust survivors suffer from numerous medical issues today as most of them were deprived of proper nutrition when they were young. Furthermore, having lost their entire families during World War II, most of them live isolated lives and battle psychological issues caused by their persecution under the Nazis. "There's this kind of standard response for survivors, that 'we've been through worse, I've been through worse and if I survived the Holocaust, through the deprivation of food and what we had to go through, I'll get through this,'" Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.



 

"But if you probe deeper you understand the depths of trauma that still resides within people," he added. Schneider revealed that many survivors are on the poverty line and thus cannot afford the additional costs of masks and other protective gear, delivery groceries, and other pandemic-related expenses. "You're teetering between making it every month [and] having to decide between food, medicine, and rent," he said. The new funds are reportedly targeted for Jews who aren't currently receiving pensions from Germany, most of whom are people who fled the Nazis and ended up in Russia and elsewhere to hide during the war.



 

"This new agreement will benefit tens of thousands of the poorest survivors alive," Schneider said in a statement. "As survivors age, their needs grow greater and our persistence does not diminish; we continue to achieve increases in compensation and social welfare services at the same time." The funds come on top of an emergency $4.3 million the Claims Conference distributed in the spring to agencies providing care for survivors. The German government also agreed to expand the categories of survivors eligible to receive the compensation so that victims from 27 "open ghettos" in Bulgaria and Romania are included.



 

"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," Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement. Meanwhile, in addition to the pandemic-related funds, Germany has also agreed to increase funding for social welfare services for survivors by 30.5 million euros ($36 million), to a total of 554.5 million ($651 million) for 2021. This money is used to fund in-home care for more than 83,000 Holocaust survivors and assist over 70,000 with other vital services, including food, medicine, transportation to doctors, and programs to alleviate social isolation.



 

Since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in Holocaust reparations. According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, six million Jewish men, women, and children were killed by the Nazis in an attempt to create a "racially superior" state. 

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