A Holocaust survivor shows his tattoo.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
By the year 2035, there will only be about 26,200 Holocaust survivors living in the country, according to a report the Central Bureau of Statistics released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
The researchers said that according to forecasts, in 2020 there will be some 142,000 survivors living in Israel and by 2025 this number will have decreased to 92,600 survivors.
At the end of 2016, there were an estimated 186,500 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, the report said. This compared to 202,600 survivors at the end of 2015.
Tamara More, director of the Association for the Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors, told The Jerusalem Post that the figures are troubling but that it is more important to deal with the present conditions of Holocaust survivors alive today.
“What is most troubling is that there are survivors who are still with us today, who have seen the worst, and who don’t have money to live out their final days in dignity,” she said.
“While we are talking about 2035, there are survivors now who have nothing to eat,” More said. “We shouldn’t talk about what will be in 15 or 20 years, we should be talking about the survivors today who are over 90 years old and who are still with us.”
Of the 186,500 survivors in Israel today, about 57,500 are survivors from the ghettos, hideouts, labor camps and concentration camps, with 77% of the survivors originating in European countries, a plurality – 32% – from Romania.
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“These are people who have seen the worst, who were in ghettos and concentration camps, who made it through Auschwitz and death marches but who don’t have money for medical treatments, nursing care and even food,” she said.
An additional 101,000 lived in countries under Nazi rule, of whom 55% were born in North Africa, primarily Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, and some 28,100 were refugees, of whom 76% were born in the Soviet Union, the report found.
Members of these three groups have been defined by various official government and private entities as Holocaust survivors, and as such are entitled to receive rights and benefits, according to the report.
“A Holocaust survivor is a person who lived in one of the countries occupied by or under the direct influence of the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, and/or refugees who were forced to leave their homes due to the Nazi regime,” the report states.
More, whose volunteer organization helps poverty-stricken and lonely Holocaust survivors, criticized the government and called for the full realization of the rights of survivors as well as the allocation of money that is still due to them.
She alluded to the Dorner Committee, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, which in 2008 issued recommendations calling to improve the conditions of Holocaust survivors.
The main recommendation was to raise the allotments of over 40,000 survivors to 75% of the amount paid by the German government to other Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel after 1953.
The committee estimated that the state’s policies had cost each survivor who had made aliya prior to 1953 between NIS 1.3 million and NIS 2.2m.
“We must make up for the terrible disgrace, that these people have lived here in horrible conditions because the state did not care for them and did not transfer funds to them from Germany,” she said.
Even now, a decade later, More said the condition of survivors has barely improved.
“We need to worry for the survivors who suffered the most and those who have been in Israel f[or] over 60 years but who did not receive what was rightfully entitled to them,” she said. “It is time we stop dealing in statistics and start dealing with people – there is not much time left.”
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