The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said Monday the $4.3 million in initial funding would be made available to agencies around the world providing care for some 120,000 survivors.
In addition to an initial $4 million contribution from the Claims Conference, the emergency fund includes generous donations of €200,000 ($215,000) from the Alfred Landecker Foundation, established last year by one of Germany’s richest families, whose assets include Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, as a way to help atone for its use of forced laborers during the Nazi era and support of Adolf Hitler’s regime. Another $100,000 was added to this fund from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
The $4.3 million in initial funding, which may be increased as needed, will be available to many of the Claims Conference grantees around the world that already provide life-saving services to 120,000 Holocaust survivors. Julius Berman, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), stated, “We will work vigorously throughout this crisis to help social welfare agencies protect survivors globally. With a network of agencies funded with approximately $610 million in Claims Conference grants, the infrastructure for delivering such assistance already exists; further, Holocausts survivors, many of whom are poor and without savings to fall back on, can rely on receiving continuing payments totaling $350 million in direct compensation. We will continue to evaluate this emergency fund to address critical gaps as they arise. Our leadership and staff are committed to ensuring that all grants and services are uninterrupted and emergency needs are met.”
All survivors are elderly, with the end of World War II now 75 years in the past, and many suffered from illness, malnutrition and other deprivations either at the hands of the Nazis or as they hid from them, which continues to affect their health today.
There are no statistics yet as to how many Holocaust survivors have been infected by the new coronavirus, but Israel’s first reported COVID-19 fatality was 88-year-old survivor Aryeh Even, and about a third of the elderly population in Israel are survivors, according to the Claims Conference.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a frightening time for Holocaust survivors as this is a population, like many elderly, that already tends to experience too much social isolation,” said Claims Conference President Berman. “The social isolation caused by this health crisis can take a serious emotional toll which, if unchecked can lead to physical ailments.
“To help head this off, we are offering additional funds for our partner agencies to cover the costs of urgently-needed items, like protective equipment for home health aides and for those in the field doing the heroic work of caring for infirmed elderly, who are most at-risk for COVID-19.”
It is in addition to approximately $350 million in direct compensation the Claims Conference is providing to more than 60,000 survivors in 83 countries this year, and some $610 million in grants to more than 300 social service agencies.
The Claims Conference is also providing advances of previously committed funds and taking other steps to help the agencies that support survivors.
“Agencies are going to have a cash flow problem and fundraising is going to be difficult,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference. “We want them to do what they do best and go save lives.”
As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in Holocaust reparations.