Holocaust survivor pension payments address a moral dilemma, not a financial dilemma. After bearing witness to the horrors of the Holocaust – one of the worst atrocities of mankind – survivors had to put back together the broken pieces of their lives. Upon losing everything, survivors were forced to rebuild from nothing.
Until recently, pension payments to Holocaust survivors expired upon death. The Claims Conference, an organization dedicated to attaining some measure of justice for Jewish Holocaust victims, negotiated with the German government to expand these payments. Over 75 years since liberation, many survivors have now passed on or are quickly advancing in age. Chairman of the Claims Conference, Julius Berman, is committed to ensuring comfort, care and dignity for survivors in their final years. As Berman so eloquently stated, “it remains our moral imperative to keep fighting as long as there are still survivors with us.”
As of July 2019, spouses of survivors are now entitled to receive pension payments from the German government for up to nine months after the survivor’s passing. Approximately 14,000 spouses are expected to be granted this payment retroactively, with a further 30,000 individuals qualifying. Additionally, there are several welfare organizations that offer a variety of services to Holocaust survivors, such as psychological services and in-home care, that will be receiving additional funding from the German government.
Germany also agreed to contribute to the Claims Conference Fund for Righteous Gentiles (non-Jews who assisted Jewish people during the war), which was established in 1963. This fund recognizes the selfless and heroic acts of non-Jewish individuals who endangered their lives and the lives of their families in order to save Jews. According to Claims Conference negotiator, Greg Schneider, there are roughly 277 Righteous Gentiles still alive who are in need of financial assistance.
Individuals who meet the requirements of an “eligible Holocaust victim” in accordance with German government guidelines, can apply to Claims Conference Compensation Programs.
Thanks for reading… Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Suzana Popovic-Montag & Tori Joseph
As readers of my blogs likely know by now, I love learning about restitution. I was thus quite intrigued to read this recent CNN article regarding a claim by the Prince of Prussia.
Georg Friedrich (also known by his legal surname, the Prince of Prussia) (and also apparently 202nd in line to the British throne), has quite the lineage. His ancestors include Brandenburg electors from 1415, Prussian kings from 1701, German emperors, and importantly, Germany’s last Kaiser, Wilhelm II (also known as Crown Prince Wilhelm).
The Prince has inherited the awe-inspiring Hohenzollern Castle (please take a look at it) located in southern Germany. But that is not all. Based on a promise made to his grandfather, the Prince has continued to pursue a dispute against the German authorities to reclaim part of his family’s fortune that was confiscated after the fall of the Nazis. Apparently, in addition to the promise, the grandfather’s will states that he explicitly expects the Prince to follow his footsteps in pursuing this claim.
Since German law disqualifies those who ‘substantially supported’ the Nazis from any form of restitution or compensation for lost property, the key to the Prince’s argument will be to prove that his ancestors did not help the Nazis. In addition to other forms of evidence, both the German government and the Prince have commissioned historians to examine Crown Prince Wilhelm’s relationship with the Nazi party. This includes reviewing historical photos and statements made by the Crown Prince.
What makes the legal issue even more fascinating is that while the law excludes corporations, such as Volkswagen and BMW from making these claims, it is unclear if former royals are excluded as well. Nevertheless, it appears that some royals have secured restitution – Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, dropped his 2003 restitution claim for artworks, manuscripts and the inventory of the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, in return for €15.5 million.
Those interested in restitution, as well as old-world monarchy, castles, and beautiful works of art, should follow this story.
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With so much taking place around us now, I forced myself to choose a topic for today’s blog that, although still estates related (this being, after all, an estates blog), allows me to think about something beautiful. I landed on art.
Full disclosure: I have blogged about art and estates before. See here and here for some shameless self-promotion. Without wanting to revisit these topics, I did some searching and was intrigued by this Financial Times article about the Art Loss Register (ALR).
The ALR is the world’s largest private database for lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles. Their services are essentially twofold. First, the ALR assists to deter the theft of art by promoting the registration of all items of valuable possession on its database and also the expansion of checking searches. Second, by operating a due diligence service to sellers of art, the ALR operates a recovery service to return works of art to their rightful owners. In addition, the ALR has expanded to negotiate compensation to the victims of art theft and the legitimising of current ownership.
In addition to art dealers, insurers, and museums, the ALR also assists private individuals including beneficiaries and trustees. A trustee who is intending to liquidate art may wish to rely on the ALR to prove title and authenticity, thereby potentially increasing value and mitigating risk of fraud.
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