For more than 70 years, Holocaust victims in the former Soviet Union have waited. They waited to outlast Soviet repression, waited for the rest of the Jewish world to remember them, and waited for recognition of their Holocaust suffering.
In 2012, after decades of Claims Conference persistence, the German government agreed to allow Holocaust victims living throughout the vast expanses of the former Soviet Union to apply to the Hardship Fund. The program issues a one-time payment of €2,556 to certain Jewish Holocaust victims.
To help many of the elderly Holocaust victims apply for compensation, the Claims Conference sent Russian-speaking staff to 11 cities in Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Our staff went from house to house, reviewing documents that could help these victims prove that they are entitled to a payment.
We also set up sessions in the local Hesed (Jewish social service agency) in each of these cities, where elderly victims could bring their documents.
Claims Conference staff traveled with iPads with special scanning software that allowed them to scan documents, file them and then send them to the New York office for processing.
Seventy-five years after the Nazis invaded the USSR, the Jews who lived through it were able to not only tell us their stories, but show us the documents that testify that they should receive this long-delayed token payment. The payment can never make up for the terror and the lost years, but now they know that someone is listening – and working to get them a recognition long denied._______________________________
Documents—many over 70 years old—must be painstakingly collected and translated.
A caseworker visits a client in her home.
Many Holocaust victims are too weak to leave their homes and have vision and hearing problems that would make applying without help impossible.
We sent caseworkers into the homes of elderly Holocaust victims to make sure each story is recorded.
Galina was born in 1923 in Kharkov, Ukraine in 1934. She escaped to Karaganda during the war.
Boris and his family escaped to Tyumen, Russia during the Holocaust.
© Conference Claims Conference 2016
Photos: Ed Serotta