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Germany plans to pay more than half a billion dollars to Holocaust survivors who are struggling to get by during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), the organization that negotiates compensation with the German government, said Wednesday that $662 million in COVID-19 relief aid will be divided among about 240,000 of the poorest Holocaust survivors. The survivors are located primarily in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe. 

“These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiation’s delegation during these unprecedented times, will help our efforts to ensure dignity and stability in survivors’ final years,” said Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference. “We must meet the challenges of the increasing needs of survivors as they age, coupled with the new and urgent necessities caused by the global pandemic. It will always remain our moral imperative to keep fighting for every survivor.”

Eligible survivors will receive two supplemental payments of $1,400 each over the next two years. This is in addition to $4.3 million in emergency funds distributed by the Claims Conference in the spring. 

According to the Claims Conference, a large portion of Holocaust survivors, especially those in the former Soviet Union, are living in poverty, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Survivors, who are all elderly, face increased health, emotional and financial barriers due to the pandemic, which disproportionally affects older populations. 

“In the face of a devastating global pandemic, it was vital to secure larger increases for survivors while also seeking immediate funds to help them through these extremely challenging times,” said Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator. 


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Negotiators emphasized the need for extra funds to cover the cost of groceries, medicine, personal protective equipment, transportation to doctors and other pandemic-related expenses. 

The organization said that the most recent negotiations with Germany also resulted in a $36 million increase in funding for social welfare services for survivors compared to last year, for a total of $651 million. Additionally, it classified certain regions in Bulgaria and Romania as “open ghettos,” which allows survivors living there to receive compensation payments from the Claims Conference. 

The organization said the funding is used for in-home care for more than 83,000 survivors and other vital services for more than 70,000 others. 

According to the Claims Conference, negotiations since 1952 have led to the German government paying more than $70 billion in Holocaust reparations to over 800,000 survivors. 

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