Sixty-two Holocaust survivors from the group known as the “Children of Tehran” are eligible for compensation from the state, the Tel Aviv District Court found Thursday.
This was the second suit that members of that group had brought against the state; Thursday’s ruling came only months after the Supreme Court closed the door on restitution for the first group, which had sued separately.
“Children of Tehran” is the name given to a group of over 1,000 children who left Poland for Russia in 1939, prior to the Nazi invasion. They eventually journeyed with a Polish-Jewish militia until they reached Tehran, where they lived for some years in harsh conditions. In 1943, when the Jewish Agency learned about the children, most of them were brought to what was then British Mandate Palestine.
For various reasons, until 1997, the Children of Tehran as a group were not recognized as Holocaust survivors for the purposes of compensation.
In January, the Supreme Court ruled that the several hundred members of the first group, who had been awarded NIS 50,000 compensation each, were ineligible for restitution. While this meant that payment to the survivors stopped, each of the plaintiffs was allowed to keep the NIS 25,000 he or she had already received from the state.
At the heart of the argument was whether a 1952 agreement between Israel and Germany created a collective right to compensation for Holocaust survivors living in Israel, or an individual right to compensation for each victim.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, Tel Aviv District Court Justice Drora Pilpel allowed the second group of 62 to sue for compensation.
The government had opposed such a move and sought to deny the claim outright, contending that the first group, which had received partial compensation, was a special case and that the current plaintiffs were ineligible to receive a similar judgment.
In its ruling, the district court referred to the situation of the remaining Children of Tehran as “an unexplained gap between law and justice.”
The litigants in the current case were from the “same group of children, survivors who immigrated to Israel nearly together” with those who had already received compensation, Pilpel wrote in her ruling. “Some of the plaintiffs did not know about the first lawsuit because it had not had proper advertising, and some of the plaintiffs had no money to pay the fee and did not join the first claim.”
According to Pilpel, not granting compensation in this case would be tantamount to discrimination between the two groups of child survivors.
“There is a ‘legal kinship,’ between the litigants, even if they are not parties to that preceding civil proceeding,” she said.