verbond belangenhartiging vervolgingsslachtoffers

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12 mei 2009

Verslag bezoek Claims Conference New York

De 24ste en de 27ste april waren Flory Neter en Wil Groen in New York bij de Claims Conference.

Besproken werden:
De problemen rond de CADSU,
De problemen rond de wees en half weeskinderen in relatie tot de CADSU,
Verbetering inzake pensioenen,
Situatie in Nederland gedurende het Naziregime,
Problemen omtrent verificatie onderduik,

Onderstaand het verslag van het bezoek van Wil groen en Flory Neter aan de Claims Conference, samenvattend komt het neer op het volgende:

Gideon Taylor geeft een samenvatting over Artikel 2 en wat er in de onderhandelingen is bereikt. Tevens benadrukt hij de problemen die de Claims conference ondervindt bij het geven van uitleg van verschillende situatie van mensen die zijn afgewezen.

De verificatie van de aanvragen die moet worden verstrekt door door externe organisatie zoals het Rode Kruis en de PUR duurt vaak lang.

Er zijn 20 case workers voor 9000 mensen wereldwijd.

De CC is het er over eens dat de wezen en half wezen er slecht van af komen.

De opmerking van het VBV dat iedere jood geboren voor 1945 ofwel ondergedoken is geweest ofwel gedeporteerd is voor de Duitse overheid onvoldoende. Men wil bewijs.

Overeengekomen werd dat hangende aanvragen uit Nederland zullen als het mogelijk is versneld worden verwerkt. Flory houdt contact met de CC en stuurt lijsten in.

Indien U voldoet aan alle bekende criteria voor een uitkering van het artikel 2 fonds en toch problemen/dringende vragen heeft met of over Uw aanvraag kunt U zich voor informatie schriftelijk bij ons melden. postbus 87594, 1080 JN Amsterdam en/of per mail via onze website: www.vbvinfo.nl

Onderstaand het hele verslag in het Engels

Meeting between Flory Neter Polak, Dr. W. Groen of the VBV and Gideon Taylor, Greg Schneider, Karen Heilig and Lydia Griffin of the Claims Conference, April 2009.

Key issues of importance to Netherlands Holocaust survivors were discussed, as well as the VBVs mission and work to assist their members and other survivors in the Netherlands.

In his opening remarks, Gideon Taylor reviewed some of the Claims Conference negotiating efforts and successes on behalf of Holocaust survivors from Western European countries previously excluded from the programs administered by the Claims Conference and funded by the German government. These programs, Hardship Fund – one time lump sum payment of Euro 2556 – and the Article 2 Fund – monthly pension of Euro 291 – are governed by eligibility criteria established by the German Ministry of Finance. The Claims Conference pursues annual negotiations with the Ministry to liberalize the criteria. Longstanding efforts have been aimed at securing compensation from the German government to “Western Persecutees” from formerly occupied Western European countries. In 2003, the Claims Conference negotiated that certain persons who were citizens of Western countries at the time of persecution and had been previously unable to apply could now, under specific circumstances, receive Article 2 payments. Previously, persons who were citizens of certain Western European countries at the time of persecution and at the time of the Global Agreement between Germany and the relevant country were excluded from receiving payments from the Article 2 Fund. As a result of negotiations in February 2003 and in June 2008, persons who were previously excluded from receiving a payment from the Article 2 Fund, because they were citizens of certain Western European countries at the time of persecution and citizens of such countries at the time of the Global Agreement between the Western European country and the Federal Republic of Germany (for exact dates see below), may now be able to receive a payment from the Article 2 Fund. The detailed criteria for such applicants are set out below:

The applicant meets the persecution criteria of the Article 2 Fund and has not received any payment from a German source OR
The applicant meets the persecution criteria of the Article 2 Fund and during the applicants persecution he/she was in a concentration camp or ghetto, in this case, any payment(s) received from a German source for the persecution he/she suffered will be disregarded (except for ongoing pensions from a German source such as the BEG or Austrian Opferfuersorge pension); OR
The applicant meets the persecution criteria of the Article 2 Fund and the only payment received by the applicant from a German source was for the death of a family member, in this case, the payment from aGerman source will be disregarded. This provision regarding “Western Persecutees” applies to persons who were a citizen of one of the following countries at the time of persecution and in the year stated: Austria (only citizenship on or before March 13, 1938 is relevant), Belgium (1960), Denmark (1959), France (1960), Holland (1960), Italy (1961), Luxembourg (1959), Norway (1959), Sweden (1964), Switzerland (1961), United Kingdom (1964).
In addition other agreements made with the German authorities, such as the changes in criteria that limit income, have allowed Western European survivors previously excluded because of income to become eligible for the Article 2 pension, because we obtained that old age and retirement and governmental pensions should not be counted as income, and we proved to the German regulators that even invalid of war pensions and war damages pensions from European government must be counted as social security and not as compensation payments, therefore enabling the recipients to receive also the Article 2 Fund pension.

Gideon Taylor described the difficulties of negotiations and the several groups of Holocaust survivors around the world who remain excluded from German compensation to this day. Even in the case of Western persecutees such as the Dutch Jews, certain problems are linked to the German official interpretation of both their original Federal Indemnification Laws and their national social welfare codes or standard, conventional historical readings that are not flexible but rather formulaic.

The problems – generally out of Claims Conference control – that arise in connection with processing the Article 2 cases from the Netherlands were discussed, such as the PUR and CADSU II payment issues that are required to be verified. The ways in which the Claims Conference can review its administrative procedures for speed or efficiency were examined, with input from Flory and Wim. On these there is complete flexibility and we are ready to do all we can. But we pointed out that on politicial issues such as what is decided by the Germans during negotiations, all we can do is keep trying and pressing. It is not in our hands. Also on certain protocols for processing (see for instance below on the issue of lack of proof for Dutch hidden children cases).

The latest negotiations with Germany have resulted in the agreement that we would create working committees on the negotiations, to work with counterparts in the German Ministry. One of the working committees of ther Claims Conference has been reserved for examining Child Survivor issues specifically, and this becomes pertinent to some of the issues that VBV raised (orphans). We will ask VBV for assistance if necessary on documentary materials for the working committees.

We responded to issues that VBV presented for review, which need to be addressed and possibly resolved, such as:
Orphans are worst off
Yellow Star payment by CADSU – Wearing the Yellow Star is not among the criteria of Article 2, but was paid by CADSU. The Claims Conference does not consider this an impediment to approval since the person was likely in hiding, which is eligible under the program
Yellow Star not paid to younger survivors by CADSU
Lack of proof in cases of hiding: Claims Conference of course works with this issue in all cases of hiding and manages to get them approved when possible, but will re-examine any Dutch case that is presented to us in particular, when there is no proof at all of hiding. A general legal “presumption of a situation in a given country” _ such as the idea put forth by VBV that all Dutch survivors who are alive and were not in camps were in hiding – is not acceptable to the German government in principle. The German government has requested that each case be processed on a case by case basis and globalizing assumptions are not admitted.

Issue of trusteeship monies discussed.

It was decided that a list of cases that are pending from Netherlands would be reviewed personally by our chief counsel and Associate Executive VP Karen Heilig – Also that Flory would send us a list of cases that should be approved and have not been yet – for review.