Claims Conference to pay Holocaust survivors

Court rules NIS 19 million to be payed to 1,365 plaintiffs who did not receive German reparations.

Holocaust survivor 224 (photo credit: AP)
Holocaust survivor 224
(photo credit: AP)
The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday ordered the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany to pay NIS 19,150,000 in damages to 1,365 plaintiffs who said it was responsible for the fact that they did not receive compensation from the German government for Nazi persecution. A total of 1,915 Israelis who immigrated from the former Soviet Union applied to the Claims Conference for a grant from the German government. The grant was offered to those who had been unable to apply for compensation when it was originally offered by the German government during the 1970s. Under German law, the grant was offered to "persecuted Jews who suffered substantial damage to their health." But the statute added that "persecuted Jews who at the time of applying for the grant were 60 years old (women) or 65 years old (men) were absolved of the requirement to bring proof of substantial damage to health." The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Yoram Sheftel and Doron Beckerman, accused the Claims Conference of not explaining to their clients the conditions for receiving the grant. Sheftel told The Jerusalem Post that many of the plaintiffs filed their applications shortly before they reached retirement age. Because they could not prove they had suffered substantial damage to their health, their applications were rejected. Had the Claims Conference properly explained this condition, they could have waited until they reached retirement age and submitted their applications then. Sheftel accused the conference of violating its special obligation of fidelity, and misguidance, obstruction, violation of contract and negligence. The court rejected the lawsuits of 550 applicants because the statute of limitations had expired. However, it upheld the allegations of misguidance, obstruction and negligence regarding the others. The judge, Oded Mudrick, wrote that the "Claims Conference owes the obligation of fidelity to the plaintiffs. It owes them an obligation of moral responsibility. It violated its concrete obligation toward them because it did not provide them with the proper tools to make their decisions. The main thing is that they did not provide vital information." Sheftel said afterwards, "This is the most serious 'indictment' any court has ever handed down against the Claims Conference." He added that the reparations applications of many thousands of others were turned down for the same reasons as those of the plaintiffs but they were not included in the lawsuit.