German authorities said Wednesday no former Nazi SS soldiers are receiving disability pensions in Belgium, responding to concerns raised by lawmakers there.
The Labor Ministry said that 18 people in Belgium are receiving war disability pensions, but “there are no former members of the Waffen SS” among them. “They may be Belgian nationals or, for example, German nationals who have settled in Belgium,” the ministry said.
In a note to AFP, the ministry said the funds “are paid out by the North Rhine-Westphalia regional government.”
The ministry checked records after the Belgian parliament’s foreign affairs commission responded to concerns voiced by lawmakers on Tuesday, agreeing “the Belgian government should ask Germany to end pensions for Belgian Nazi collaborators.”
When they were established in a 1951 law by West Germany, some 4.4 million people, both civilian and military, qualified for “victims of war” pensions.
In 1998, a law was passed to revoke the pensions for those found to have participated in “crimes against the principles of humanity.”
A review in 2016 found only 99 had been removed through 2013.
In a text adopted Tuesday, the Belgian parliament said pensions for “collaboration in one of the most murderous regimes in history is in contradiction with collective remembrance,” and against the values of the European Union.
The pensions are sent monthly to residents of Belgium who volunteered to fight alongside the German army, as well as those forcibly recruited in the annexed territories of eastern Belgium, historian Christoph Brull of the University of Luxembourg told AFP on Tuesday.
According to Brull, only people with disabilities who have not been convicted of war crimes can today benefit, but “there is a grey area. The disability criteria are quite open and the certainty of who did what (in the war) remains unclear.”
World War II remembrance group “Memoire-Herinnering,” which has raised awareness of the scheme, said some beneficiaries even received full salaries several years after the end of the war.
Germany believed at the time that “it should ensure the commitments of the Third Reich and resumed payments,” said the association’s Alvin De Coninck, who has been working on the subject for seven years.
Lawmakers insisted that the Belgian government request from Germany “all information needed” to clear up the matter and launch an investigation.