State to pay Bulgarian survivors NIS 200m.

Until now, the Bulgarians have not received compensation in accordance with the 1957 Handicapped from Nazi Persecution Law.

survivors march 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
survivors march 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The state will have to pay the estimated 2,000 Bulgarian Holocaust survivors in Israel NIS 200 million up front in retroactive compensation payments for their suffering during World War II, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. Until now, the Bulgarians have not received compensation in accordance with the 1957 Handicapped from Nazi Persecution Law. The authority in charge of implementing the law rejected claims by Bulgarian survivors on the grounds that they did not meet the criteria for being eligible for the compensation. Some of the survivors appealed against the decision of the authority in a legal procedure that ended on October 9, 2005, when the High Court of Justice ruled that the loss of freedom suffered by the Bulgarian survivors, who had been forcibly uprooted from their homes during the war, did meet the criteria of the 1957 law. This, even though the expulsion took place outside the territories conquered by Nazi Germany and the Jews were not escorted by armed guards to their new residences. In light of the High Court decision, some of the survivors asked the authority to reconsider their applications for compensation. The authority allegedly dragged out the procedures and then rejected the applications on the grounds that the High Court decision had not specifically overturned the authority's original rejection. Despite the authority's decision, then-finance minister Avraham Hirchson in July 2006 ordered that the Bulgarian survivors should be given the monthly compensation from now on. A committee established to hear appeals against the decisions of the authority went even further, saying that those who had reapplied for compensation should receive it retroactively from the day of their original application. The authority rejected the committee's decision and appealed to the district court. In return, the survivors petitioned the High Court, asking it to order the authority to obey the appeals committee decision even though the matter was in the hands of the district court and there was a possibility that the authority would eventually win its appeal. However, the petitioners warned that time was of the essence because the mortality rate of the elderly survivors was so high. Justice Yoram Danziger accepted the petition and ordered the authority to immediately give the survivors their retroactive compensation.