Polish regulation to give pensions to 20,000 Holocaust survivors

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — New Polish regulations entitle Holocaust survivors born in that country to monthly pension payments of $130, restitution officials said.

The regulations that went into effect last month are expected to benefit nearly 20,000 survivors worldwide who were not eligible for compensation, The Jewish Week of New York reported Wednesday.

Gideon Taylor, the chairman of operations at the World Jewish Restitution Organization, told the paper that his organization had been negotiating with Poland for six months before arrangements were finalized last week.

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The new rules dispense with an earlier requirement for recipients to own a Polish Bank account. The change was approved a year ago by the Polish parliament and President Bronisław Komorowski, and took effect last October for residents of the European Union and last month for those in the rest of the world.

Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, told The Jewish Week that his office is sending out 12,500 applications to those believed eligible worldwide. The forms have been translated into English. The government of Israel is expected to send applications to another 7,000 of its citizens.

The pension program, known as the Legislation on War Veterans and Victims of War and Post-War Oppression, offers the monthly payments to both Jews and non-Jews who were detained by the Nazis in ghettos and prisons, and to others considered veterans or victims of oppression.

Julius Berman, president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement, “The payments can make a real difference helping elderly survivors meet their daily needs and provides them a long-delayed measure of justice.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the Special Envoys for Holocaust Issues and Anti-Semitism called on Serbia to “return of confiscated property.”

The statement published on May 11 is the first such appeal. The Special Envoys are officials from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Macedonia and the United States designated by their governments to deal with Holocaust issues.

Earlier this month, Jewish community representatives from Lithuania met with restitution officials and government officials for the first session of a joint restitution panel.

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