Thursday Oct 6, 2022
Thursday Oct 6, 2022

Germany expands pensions to more Holocaust survivors


Nepalnews
2021 Oct 06, 15:15, Berlin
This file photo, taken in the winter months of 1942, shows citizens of Leningrad as they dig up water from a broken main, during the 900-day siege of the Russian city by German invaders. Photo: AP

The organization that handles claims on behalf of Jews who suffered under the Nazis said Wednesday that Germany has agreed to extend compensation to Jewish survivors who endured the World War II siege of Leningrad and two other groups who had not received any monthly pensions from Germany.

The payments will be going to approximately 6,500 survivors around the world, primarily in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe, according to the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference.

The new funds are targeted toward about 4,500 Jews who survived the Leningrad siege during World War II, about 800 who lived mostly in hiding in France during the Nazi’s terror reign, and some 1,200 Jewish survivors from Romania.

All of them will start getting a lifelong, monthly pension of 375 euros ($435) retroactively from July on.

“This was a landmark breakthrough,” Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, said of the newly negotiated compensation arrangement with the German government.

“For many of these people, it’s the difference between deciding to pay the rent for the month or the medicines or buying food,” Schneider said in a telephone interview from New York.

Nonna Rewzina, right, and her granddaughter Lana Solovej
Photo: AP
Nonna Rewzina, right, and her granddaughter Lana Solovej Photo: AP

One of recipients of the new monthly pension is Nonna Revzina, a 85-year-old woman who now lives in a Jewish senior citizen home in Berlin.

The retired librarian still remembers the beginning of the Leningrad siege by the Nazis in September 1941, when she was five years old. She still trembles when she recalls how she watched the events unfold from the sixth floor of her tenement building, when the city came under bombardment from Nazi forces, supply lines were cut off and hundreds of thousands died.

During an interview with the AP in her one-room apartment, Revzina wiped off her tears as she talked about her father, who died of hunger and illness during the siege in 1942, and whose body her mother took away on a sled to a place nearby where hundreds of dead bodies were piled up. She still does not know where her father was buried.

The siege of Leningrad, the Russian city now called St. Petersburg, lasted nearly 2½ years until the Soviet Army drove away the Germans on Jan. 27, 1944.

Estimates of the death toll vary, but historians agree that more than 1 million Leningrad residents died from hunger or air and artillery bombardments during the siege.

“But in addition to all of that, there were extra measures that the Germans did against Jews,” Schneider said, such as the Nazis dropping leaflets into the city urging residents to identify Jews and throw them out or sending spies into the city to try create riots and then blaming that on the Jews.

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