Seventy-five years after the end of World War II there are still many Holocaust survivors living among us. In addition to the array of health issues that naturally plague people in this age group, Holocaust survivors remain scarred both physically and emotionally from the traumas they endured.
Regardless of where they live, Holocaust survivors are entitled to various benefits and allowances from different world organizations; nevertheless, the statistics indicate that a substantial percentage – 25% – 30% – live in poverty, unable to afford even food and medicine.
According to attorney Aviva Silberman, founder of Aviv, an organization that helps survivors living in Israel receive the compensation they are legally entitled to, many survivors “simply don’t know about the benefits and what they’re entitled to, what forms to fill out, how to fill them out, or where to submit them.”
There are several reparation payment or allowance programs available to survivors living around the world, says Silberman. However, deciphering the fine print as to who is eligible for which payment, which forms need to be completed, and what supporting documents must be provided for each can be overwhelming.
“The rights and benefits that are disbursed to survivors are updated periodically, but the relevant information is not freely accessible to all,” explains Silberman.
“We encourage survivors to inquire about their benefits. In many cases, what they were told several years ago about not being entitled has changed,” says Silberman. A case in point, and one that affects thousands of survivors globally, is new legislation from July 2019 that recognizes 20 Romanian cities as being ghettos. As a result, survivors from Romania who previously were not eligible for any of the German “rentas,” or pensions, are now eligible for various grants and monthly allowances.
For the latest information, including links to relevant documents, please visit www.avivshoa.co.il.
Main Photo: The survivors’ conference in Ramat Gan, September 18, 2017. Credit: Ofer Vaknin