The following is a statement from The Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA Executive Committee:
Holocaust survivors were appalled to read the Claims Conference’s media blitz last month that management consultants are recommending a new focus on Holocaust education, funded by Germany. Maybe this latest breach of decency will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. Maybe now, the New York Attorney General, or Congress, will step in and replace the Claims Conference’s board of directors and management.
We are among the fortunate survivors who are able to serve on the advisory committees of the Jewish Family Services and similar agencies throughout the United States, and we are in contact with survivors doing similar work in Israel. It is tragic how we see, every day, the excruciating pain of denying poor survivors the necessary financial assistance they need for medicines, hearing aids, eyeglasses, dental care, food, rent and utility payments, home care, and other basic needs. We know of far too many survivors who have suffered and died in misery, without the care they needed and deserved. And survivors are dying at an alarming rate.
We were very distressed by the Claims Conference’s statements that the survivors’ agenda is already taken care of, and that ensuring a smooth flow of payments due from Germany to survivors, and providing adequate long term care are fully accomplished. According to Greg Schneider: “We did that.”
No, you have not. Why isn’t anybody doing the math? As our colleague Jack Rubin showed in January at the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging, the $800 million home care funding promised by Germany last summer for the next four years will only cover 25% of indigent survivors’ home care needs worldwide, about 15 weeks a year for the “average” survivor. What is an elderly and infirm survivor supposed to do the other 37 weeks? http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/Memo-to-the-Claims-Conference-We-Holocaust-survivors-are-not-dead-yet-362041
The current system, pitting indigent survivors against the heirs of confiscated East German properties and other looted assets, is wrong. Germany caused the massive medical and emotional problems survivors are confronting today. Germany, and profiteers like Allianz and Generali should pay for all of the professionally recommended home care and emergency services survivors need to live their last years in health and dignity. And, survivors and heirs should have the right to recover their lost assets, including German properties, insurance claims, and artworks.
We are grateful to Senators Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson who have written Chancellor Merkel asking that Germany take full responsibility for the full range of needs of survivors everywhere.
However, one essential step that can be taken today is to dismiss the incumbent management and board of the Claims Conference, and replace them with qualified professionals, elected survivors and second generation leaders, accountable only to the survivor community, in the lead.