The head of the Jerusalem based Victims of Nazi Persecution Organization called
on Friday for the governments of Germany and Israel to compensate the siblings
of more than 400 survivors of the Holocaust who fought and died during Israel’s
War of Independence.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post Motke
Wiesel, the group’s chairman, outlined the advocacy organization’s nearly
yearlong campaign to raise awareness about the forgotten Shoah
Wiesel, born in 1929 in Romania and survivor of several
concentration camps, including Auschwitz, said if the survivors had “parents and
wives they would have gotten pensions.”
Wiesel, who experienced combat as
a soldier in the 1948 War, sent letters to MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi)
and the head of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, urging
both to create a payment plan “to these Holocaust victims through their living
According to Wiesel’s letter to Greg Schneider, the executive
vice president of the claims conference, “about 2,000 Holocaust survivors were
killed in Israel in the Independence War in 1948. More than 400 of them didn’t
have parents, only siblings. According to the Israeli procedure these relatives
don’t receive the compensation that parents were.”
The November 2011
letter continues “... these victims didn’t receive from Germany any compensation
as Holocaust survivors.”
It is unclear if the German government intends
to consider payment for the survivors.
Responding to Wiesel’s letter,
Schneider, from the New Yorkbased claims conference, wrote, “You raise an
interesting point, of which I was not aware.”
While not ruling out funds
from the Finance Ministry to compensate siblings of the survivors, MK Zevulun
Orlev wrote in a letter to Wiesel that there is currently “resistance” from that
ministry. According to the letter from Orlev, the “Finance Ministry will create
a situation where the majority of the votes in the ministerial committee on
legislation will avoid getting a law that would allow this bid to
Orlev also said that “Perhaps in the future it will be possible
to check into this matter and whether there will be a change in this position by
the Ministry of Finance.”
Wiesel said four people have expressed interest
in compensation for their survivor siblings.
There are likely more than
400 people who lost their siblings in the War of Independence.
list contains the fallen soldiers from Eastern Europe. Soldiers who are from
Central and Western Europe still need to be identified and notices sent to any
Wiesel, who works with colleagues Zidon Zwi and Elijahu Schmid,
said the victims’ organization started in the early 1950s in Israel. They help
survivors deal with the complex bureaucratic paperwork.
speaks fluent German and was born on the border of Germany and Switzerland, told
the Post that he drafts letters in German for agencies in the Federal
In a separate development at the group’s office on Shatz street
in the city center, Steffi Fogel, a 90-year-old Auschwitz survivor, spoke to the
Post. She gave her first public comments about her experience as a survivor of
the Hitler movement.
Fogel grew up in town in Romania in the Transylvania
region close to where Wiesel was born. In terms of her imprisonment in various
concentration camps, she said she “had never talked about it... It is still in
raging in my mind.”
Asked if she planned to tell her story to Yad Vashem
and the Spielberg Shoah Foundation’s documentary center, she said she is not
sure because she is “unable to get over” the time during the
She expressed anger “at the world” and the indifference of the
international community who did not care that the Nazis sought to exterminate
Fluent in English, Yiddish, Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian,
and Romanian, Fogel said her father was a Zionist and wanted to her to learn
Hebrew as a young girl.
In May of 1944, the Nazis and their collaborators
deported Fogel to Auschwitz. The approaching Soviet Army prompted the Nazis to
force the prisoners on a death march in January of 1945. She marched along with
other prisoners to the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück.
we never cry?” said Fogel about her time in the camps. She said the first time
she did cry was when a kapo turned to her and said “you’re laughing” and then
slapped her in the face.
On May 2, 1945, Fogel walked out of the barracks
of the Neutstadt concentration camp, finally free from Nazi captivity. She said
she and “27 girls went to a nearby town and took a horse and carriage” and fled
Fogel lived in Italy for 48 years and ran a jewelry
import export business with her late husband. She came to Israel in 2004.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that Motke
Wiesel was born in 1922. The correct year is 1929.