In first, Germany to compensate 25,000 Algerian Jewish Holocaust survivors

In first, Germany to compensate 25,000 Algerian Jewish Holocaust survivors

Living under the French Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis, they were persecuted for being Jewish; now they are eligible for a one-time payment of $3,183

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of Algerian Jewish tailors. (Courtesy of JIMENA)
Illustrative photo of Algerian Jewish tailors. (Courtesy of JIMENA)

The German government has agreed to recognize some 25,000 Jewish Algerians as Holocaust survivors eligible for compensation, and they will be able to apply for a one-time grant later this year, a survivors rights organization announced Monday.

Jews who lived in Algeria between July 1940 and November 1942, and who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, will be eligible for the one-time payment of €2,556.46 ($3,183), said the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany, an international Jewish group that distributes Holocaust compensation funds on behalf of the German government.

“This is a long overdue recognition for a large group of Jews in Algeria who suffered anti-Jewish measures by Nazi allies like the Vichy Regime,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference. “The Vichy government subjected these people to restrictions on education, political life, participation in civil society and employment, abolishing French citizenship and singling them out only because they were Jews.”

The French Vichy regime ruled parts of France and the French colonies between 1940 and 1944 and collaborated with the Nazi German occupiers.

Negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government over recognition of the Algerian survivors began in August 2017.

Claims Conference representatives meet with German officials during Holocaust restitution negotiations in Israel in 2013. (Courtesy Claims Conference)

The money will be paid via the Claims Conference Hardship Fund. A registration center is now open in Paris, where the largest group of Algerian survivors lives. It will operate until April 2018 and satellite centers will open later in Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse for those who are not able to travel to the Paris center.

Services will be free to all survivors, and no legal representation is required, the Claims Conference said.

There are also approximately 3,900 Algerian survivors living in Israel. The Claims Conference intends to send direct mail to known survivors in countries other than France explaining the details of their eligibility for compensation.

Payments to those who qualify for the grant will start by July 2018.

During World War II, Algeria, a French colony, was under the control of Nazi Germany and the Vichy government in France.

Ruediger Mahlo, Claims Conference representative in Germany, explained that while the grants are not large, the principle of recognizing the survivors as having suffered during the Holocaust is what matters.

“This payment is a small measure of the justice these survivors deserve, but the recognition is important and we will continue to fight until every survivor has been recognized,” Mahlo said in the statement.

The Claims Conference is a nonprofit organization that helps survivors to obtain compensation. It was founded in 1951 by representatives of international Jewish organizations and distributes funds it receives from Germany to survivors and their welfare groups. According to Claims Conference figures, since 1952 the German government has paid out some $70 billion in compensation.

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