Holocaust 'curfew' compensation upheld

TA court recognizes survivors from Bulgaria and Romania who lived under curfew during WWII as being entitled to compensation.

holocaust survivor 248 ap (photo credit: )
holocaust survivor 248 ap
(photo credit: )
The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday recognized Holocaust survivors from Bulgaria and Romania who lived under curfew during World War II as being entitled to compensation under the Invalid (Nazi Persecution) Law of 1957. In doing so, the three-judge panel upheld the decision of a special committee that had accepted the survivors' demand to be compensated in accordance with the law against an appeal by the Finance Ministry. Attorney Yacov Yacobovitch, who represented the petitioners, estimates that "a few thousand" Israelis will benefit from the court's decision. Each of them will be entitled to the monthly payment of NIS 1,400 awarded to those survivors who have benefited from the law until now. The legal question at stake was whether the survivors who had lived in Romania and Bulgaria, which were not part of the Third Reich, were to be considered people who had been "denied" their freedom, or people whose freedom had been "restricted." The Federal German Compensation Law recognizes the right of Jews whose freedom has been denied to receive compensation even if they lived in countries that were not under German sovereignty but that acted under the influence of the Nazi regime. For years, however, the Finance Ministry, which is responsible for allocating grants to survivors in accordance with an agreement reached with the West German government in 1952, did not consider those who had lived under curfew as fulfilling this condition. In 2005, however, the High Court of Justice recognized another category of survivors from countries that were independent of Germany as being eligible for compensation, and wrote in its decision that the time had come to broaden the definition of "freedom denied." In keeping with that decision, a special committee established to hear appeals from Holocaust survivors whose requests for compensation under the Invalid (Nazi Persecution) Law had been turned down, accepted the appeal of those who had lived under curfew. Tuesday's court ruling upheld the decision. According to Yacobovitch, the survivors in Bulgaria lived under curfew for 20 hours a day. Curfew conditions in Romania varied. Some of the survivors lived under curfew for several years.