Survivors: Germans paid nothing compared to damage
Members of governing council of Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors to coordinate next week issues to be raised in meeting with German finance minister. Center's chairman says, 'I am not ashamed to ask Germany for money. They should take care of the survivors until the end of their lives'
"We will present the current situation," said the center's chairman, Noah Flug. "The Germans paid a lot, but this is nothing compared to the damage they caused."
German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck will visit Israel following a demand made by Minister for Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan to reopen the 1952 reparation agreements and demand additional funds for the Holocaust survivors from the German government.
Several days after the demand was made, sources speaking on behalf of the German government said that it was willing to discuss the possibility of raising the pensions paid to Shoah survivors, if this was what the Israeli government wanted.
Apart from the Holocaust survivors' economic, mental and physical distress, the meeting is also expected to discuss the payment of additional sums for the welfare of Shoah refugees.
Talking to Ynet, Flug said, "We believe that Germany is responsible for the Holocaust survivor's situation. It is clear that the German people, or different elements on their behalf, carried out the murders and robberies, and the German people are responsible for this and should take care of the Shoah survivors until the end of their lives."
Flug added that he was not ashamed to ask the German government for additional funds.
"I am not ashamed, because I am aware of the extent of the damage they caused. Not one has the right to say enough to Holocaust survivors. All those who say this is immoral – their morals are unacceptable to me."
Miriam Steiner, a Shoah survivor who was sent to a concentration camp in Yugoslavia when she was five years old, said, "I do not know what the German government gave the Israeli government. All I know is that the Holocaust survivors are deprived to this day. You must prove that you are miserable in order to get what you deserve."
Steiner added that although she did not like to talk about economic issues and hated to ask for things, the meeting with the German finance minister and the demand for additional compensation money were legitimate.
"The Germans are the ones who should feel inferior, not we. We do not have to talk with the Germans, but rather to demand what we deserve. It may not be popular to talk about the money, but in the end everything comes down to the fact that the survivors are not allowed to live with dignity."
'Meeting with Germany – a positive move'
Leopold Rosen, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who escaped from a ghetto in Poland at the age of 17 while being shot at by German soldiers, has been living with two bullets in his hand from that incident.
Rosen has been living off a monthly National Insurance pension of NIS 2,500 (about $635.5) and does not believe the promises and the agreement to improve the survivors' situation.
As for the meeting with the German minister, he said, "This is not very nice, but we have not choice. I believe Germany acted foolishly when it gave money to the Israeli government instead of to the survivors themselves."
Uri Hanoch, who survived a Lithuanian concentration camp at the age of 13, has supported Minister Eitan's initiative to appeal to the German government from the beginning.
"I think that not only is this right, it is very positive. Rafi Eitan opened his mouth and was harshly criticized, but the Germans stole a lot of property and our demand is justified. One could say that they deceived us because they gave a sum which the State needed at the 1950s, and today's demands have changed."
Gita Koifman, a Holocaust survivor representing the survivors who immigrated to Israel from the former USSR, told Ynet that when the agreement was signed in the 1950s, the government did not know that so many people would immigrate to Israel from the USSR, including needy Shoah survivors.
"The meeting and the demand are legitimate. Today the economic issue is not emotional like it was in the 1950s. We achieved what we could from the Israeli government recently, and the German government is next," she said.