AJC: German Government's Shameful Delay on Pensions for Nazi Ghetto Survivors

Mar 22, 2013, 11:06 ET from American Jewish Committee

BERLIN, March 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Berlin Office has conveyed its deep disappointment directly to government coalition parties in the German parliament for their rejection of a draft resolution that would have allowed World War II ghetto survivors to receive pensions as of the year 1997.

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"The chances of finding a just solution for ghetto survivors diminishes daily," said Deidre Berger, director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute. "Regrettably, inaction creates an impression that the government wants to sit out the issue until it becomes irrelevant."

In 2002, the German Parliament unanimously passed a resolution approving pension payments for ghetto survivors. However, 90% of subsequent applications were turned down by the German social security system. Many of the applications were reviewed when a Federal Social Court in 2009 relaxed the criteria for pension applications. The social security administration approved only half of the nearly 50,000 applications, but stipulated that back payments would only go back four years, and not to 1997 as originally foreseen by the German parliament.  A federal court upheld that decision in February 2012.

In light of this legal obstacle, politicians from all political parties vowed to find a solution to enable the recipients to receive the larger pension payments called for in the 2002 parliamentary resolution. The German Ministry for Work and Social Issues indicated in a statement earlier this month that it hoped "a timely solution" could be found. Opposition politicians appealed to government parties earlier this week to solve the problem jointly, and drafted the resolution that was rejected.

"Let's remember that for nearly two decades the German government has been paying 'war victim' pensions to Waffen-SS veterans in Eastern Europe, many of whom were complicit in the Nazi persecution of Jews," said Berger. "Holocaust survivors who rightfully expect to receive the pension payments approved by the parliament more than a decade ago deserve justice. We urge an expeditious resumption of coalition negotiations to resolve this issue so that the government's promise to ghetto survivors is fulfilled."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee