Germany to compensate those who fled Nazis as children

Flowers are placed at a 'Trains to Life - Trains to Death' bronze memorial by sculptor Frank Meisler outside the Friedrichstrasse station in Berlin, on November 9, 2018, the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht Nazi pogrom. - The memorial representing Jewish children of the 1930s is dedicated to children whose lives were saved by children's transports (Kindertransporte) to England and at the same time to children who were deported to concentration camps, depicting their contrasting fate in the Nazi era. Germany remembers victims of the Nazi pogrom that heralded the start of the Third Reich's drive to wipe out Jews, at a time when anti-Semitism is resurgent in the West. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHN MACDOUGALL | AFP | Getty Images

Flowers are placed at a ‘Trains to Life – Trains to Death’ bronze memorial by sculptor Frank Meisler outside the Friedrichstrasse station in Berlin, on November 9, 2018, the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht Nazi pogrom. – The memorial representing Jewish children of the 1930s is dedicated to children whose lives were saved by children’s transports (Kindertransporte) to England and at the same time to children who were deported to concentration camps, depicting their contrasting fate in the Nazi era. Germany remembers victims of the Nazi pogrom that heralded the start of the Third Reich’s drive to wipe out Jews, at a time when anti-Semitism is resurgent in the West. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Jewish groups inside Nazi Germany planned the transports, and the first arrived in Harwich on Dec. 2, 1938, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The last transport from Germany left Sept. 1, 1939 — the day World War II broke out with the Nazi invasion of Poland — and the final transport from continental Europe left the Netherlands on May 14, 1940, the same day Dutch forces surrendered to the Nazis.

In all, about 10,000 children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland were taken to Britain, about 7,500 of whom were Jewish, according to the museum. About half were placed with foster families, while the others stayed in hostels, schools or farms.

In addition to those who remained in Britain, many resettled in the U.S., Israel, Canada, Australia and elsewhere, Schneider said.

Today, survivors are at least in their 80s and most continue to look back on their escape as the defining moment of their lives as they were put alone onto trains into the unknown, saying goodbye to parents and siblings often for the last time, Schneider said.

“This money is acknowledgement that this was a traumatic, horrible thing that happened to them,” he said.

Some survivors already received small payments in the 1950s but that will not bar them from receiving the new benefit, the Claims Conference said.

The Claims Conference carries out continuous negotiations with Germany to expand the number of people eligible for compensation.

Since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis.

In 2019, the Claims Conference will distribute approximately $350 million in direct compensation to more than 60,000 survivors in 83 countries, the organization says. In addition, it will provide some $550 million in grants to social service agencies that provide home care, food, medicine and other services for Holocaust survivors.

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