On Thursday, at the invitation of German Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, the Claims Conference will join German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israel’s Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, along with several hundred guests, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the indemnification agreement making it possible for Holocaust survivors to receive a measure of justice – The Luxembourg Agreements.
“This historic event, the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Luxembourg Agreements, is cause for commemoration and reflection,” said Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference. “The extermination of European Jews by the Nazis left a horrific chasm, not only in global Jewry, but in global humanity. These agreements laid the groundwork for compensation and restitution for those survivors who had lost everything and continue to serve as the foundation for the ongoing negotiations on behalf of the estimated 280,000 Holocaust survivors living around the world.”
Luxembourg Agreements revisited
On September 10, 1952, groundbreaking agreements on compensation payments for survivors of Nazi persecution during World War II and to the State of Israel were concluded in the City Hall of Luxembourg. The landmark agreements were negotiated and ultimately agreed between the newly formed State of Israel, the Federal Republic of Germany as the legal successor to the German Reich, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), formed by 23 major global Jewish organizations to negotiate on behalf of the world’s Holocaust survivors. The agreements created the basis for all subsequent compensations for Nazi persecution.
On Thursday, the three signatory parties to the historic agreements will be represented at a ceremony in Berlin at the Jewish Museum. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will speak of the importance of the agreements and the special responsibility Germany bears for the past, the present, and for the future. “The Luxembourg Agreements were fundamental and led to financial compensation in the amount of more than €80 billion Germany has paid by the end of 2021. The payments to survivors and the homecare program are very close to our heart and recently we see the increasing importance of Holocaust education,” stated Scholz.
Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor and Claims Conference Chief Negotiator Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat also will speak, emphasizing the consequences and effects of the agreements for Holocaust survivors around the world.
The State of Israel will be represented by Meirav Cohen. Highly anticipated remarks of the day are expected from Holocaust survivor Ambassador Colette Avital. A child survivor of the Holocaust, Ambassador Avital survived by living in hiding in Bucharest with her mother. A long-time member of the Claims Conference Board and negotiating team, Avital maintained a long career as a member of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Eizenstat emphasized, “The Luxembourg Agreements laid the foundation for all subsequent compensations for survivors of Nazi persecution. Never before in human history has the defeated power paid compensation to civilians for losses and suffering. It is a monumental achievement, which shows the commitment of the German people to recognize the evils of their former Nazi society.”
“It took truly great and far-sighted leadership to sit down at the table only a few years after the Holocaust and negotiate the unimaginable. They laid the groundwork for the results we are announcing today of more than $1.2b. in 2023 for compensation and social welfare services for Holocaust survivors,” stated Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider. “We could not do the work we do today – work to ensure every Holocaust survivor is able to live their life in the dignity that was taken from them in their youth – if each of those leaders had not stepped up during this moment in history.”
The Luxembourg negotiations and resulting compensation agreements laid the groundwork on which the Claims Conference continues to conduct negotiations with the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany.
What will Holocaust survivors receive?
To be announced at the event in Berlin today are the negotiation outcomes for the following areas: Emergency humanitarian payments of €12 million to 8,500 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors.
Payments are anticipated to begin being distributed this Fall. Effective in January 2023, there will be an increase of €130m. in home-care for those survivors who depend on in-home services to manage their day-to-day life. Of this amount, €60m. will be spent to increase homecare in Israel, which was achieved together with Minister Cohen, while €70m. will be spent in other countries around the world. A third year of the Hardship Fund supplemental payments will follow on the two years that were previously negotiated. This additional €170m. will impact approximately 143,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide.
For the first-time, there has been an agreement on Holocaust education funding of €10m. for 2022, €25m. for 2023, €30m. for 2024, and €35m. for 2025. In total, as a result of negotiations with the German Government, for homecare and compensation for Holocaust survivors living around the world is approximately $1.2b. for 2023.