Europe

More Holocaust survivors to receive German compensation

Entrance to Auschwitz
Image caption An estimated 500,000 Holocaust survivors are still alive today

Germany will increase pension benefits to Jewish Holocaust survivors and broaden the category of those eligible for compensation.

The move is part of revisions made to the 1952 Luxembourg Agreement, under which West Germany assumed responsibility for the Holocaust.

As a result some 80,000 Jews in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union will receive payments for the first time.

To date, Germany has paid an estimated 55bn euros (£44bn; $70bn) to survivors.

The amended accord was signed by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, to mark the treaty's 60th anniversary.

"We still do not know the names of all of the victims," Mr Schaeuble said.

"The crimes of the Holocaust were so inconceivably enormous that you can't know all of the victims or those with claims, so you have to adjust it again and again.

"In eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, there are still people who were not entitled to make claims. And because those people who were entitled were identified, we said they should also receive [payments]."

Under the new agreement, Jewish survivors in ex-Communist countries are now eligible for a one-off payment of 2,556 euros.

In addition, some 100,000 elderly Jewish victims of the Nazi regime in the region will see their pensions increase from 200 euros per month to 300 euros per month, to match the sum Holocaust survivors elsewhere are already receiving.

Mr Berman said around 500,000 Holocaust survivors were still alive worldwide. His organisation was founded in 1951 to secure financial compensation for them.

"Half [of the survivors] are in poverty or very close to the poverty line," Mr Berman said.

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