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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BERLIN349 2009-03-25 14:39:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
Cable title:  

JEWISH CLAIMS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS SURGING HOME

Tags:   PHUM PGOV KNAR GM 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRL #0349/01 0841439
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251439Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3666
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 000349 

SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT PASS TO EUR/OHI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KNAR GM
SUBJECT: JEWISH CLAIMS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS SURGING HOME
CARE NEEDS FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS, ASKS GERMAN GOVERNMENT
FOR SUPPORT

Classified By: Charge D'Affaires a.i. John M. Koenig for reasons 1.4 (b
,d).



1. (U) This is an action request. See paragraph 8.



2. (SBU) Summary: The Conference of Jewish Material Claims
Against Germany, Inc. (JCC) achieved only a partial success
in its March 19 annual negotiations with the German Finance
Ministry. The Ministry agreed to raise assistance payments
for Eastern European Holocaust survivors to bring them more
in line with those of Western European survivors. JCC
negotiator Roman Kent, however, informed CDA March 20 that
adequate home care assistance for elderly survivors and
payments to ghetto workers remain outstanding and
increasingly urgent issues. In the days prior to the
negotiations, the JCC delegation met with a range of
political party leaders and government officials to discuss
their concerns and received general support for their
positions. End summary.

East and West European Survivors Pensions Equalized


--------------------------



--------------------------





3. (SBU) In a March 20 meeting, JCC negotiator Roman Kent --
himself a Holocaust survivor -- briefed CDA on the outcome of
the JCC's March 19 annual negotiations with the German
Finance Ministry. As a result of the negotiations, Holocaust
survivors in new EU member countries and those in non-member
countries will (beginning in 2010) receive monthly assistance
of 240 Euro, rather than 216 and 178 Euro respectively. The
result equalizes and increases the amount received by
survivors in EU and non-EU states. Kent said that the JCC's
goal was to increase the payments to 290 Euro and they will
seek a further increase during their 2010 negotiations.

Home Care Increasingly a Concern for Survivors


--------------------------

--



4. (SBU) Kent stressed that home care has become
increasingly a necessity for elderly survivors. Provision of
assistance to cover home care has not been included in any
Holocaust victims compensation agreements with the German
government. He estimates that USD 100 million is needed
annually to cover the cost of home care for survivors. How
to cover home care assistance in the near future has become
an urgent issue, Kent added. He explained that the urgency
is not only because of the increased need but because the JCC
budget is dwindling and and it will soon not have sufficient
funds to provide for this need. Kent explained that as the
JCC is selling off much of the unclaimed property that it
owns through restitution claims, its budget is diminishing
and will be gone within a few years. Kent pointed out that
this year the JCC spent the last of the remaining funds of
the International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance
Claims (ICHIEC) -- USD 26 million -- for home care
assistance. (Note: Konrad Matschke, deputy representative
for the JCC's office in Germany told Poloff March 25 that the
JCC is the main source of funding for home care for survivors
in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.)



5. (SBU) Kent noted that the danger is that those needy
survivors who currently receive home care could face loss of
this service when the JCC funds run out. Although the
Finance Ministry agreed to provide 30 million Euros this year
plus an additional 7.5 million Euros in the fourth quarter to
ensure that no break in services occurs, an agreement for
next year's funding was not reached. The Finance Ministry
argued, according to Kent, that part of the home care funds
should come from the so-called "Hardship Fund." This fund
was created in 1980 to pay a one-time amount of 2,556 Euros
to survivors who are refugees from former Soviet states and
who left with no resources. The Finance Ministry has argued
that funds for home care should be taken from this fund's
five percent set-aside to cover institutional grants,
according to Kent. The JCC has maintained that this five
percent set aside was not meant to cover home care costs.
The Finance Ministry agreed to establish a working group to
study what home care assistance elderly German citizens
receive and what the needs of the Holocaust survivor
population are.



6. (C) In the days prior to the negotiations, Kent said, the
JCC negotiating delegation met with a range of political
party leaders and government officials. Kent said that the
JCC had obtained support for its position regarding German
government responsibility to help fund home care from Social
Democratic Party Secretary General Hubertus Heil, Free
Democrats leader Guido Westerwelle, Christian Democratic
Party/Christian Social Union Bundestag Caucus leader Volker
Kauder, Greens Party co-Caucus leader Rentate Kuenast, member
of The Left Party Petra Pau, and Chancellery State Secretary


Hermann Groehe, with the latter being especially sympathetic.
Kent said that Groehe agreed that home care costs should not
be taken from the five percent set-aside of the Hardship
Fund. All agreed, Kent said, that it is the "moral
responsibility" of Germany to provide assistance for home
care.

Ghetto Labor Pensions


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Kent also highlighted the problem of pension
eligibility for those persecuted who performed voluntary work
in ghettos. Pursuant to the 2002 Ghetto Pension Law,
persecuted persons who voluntarily did paid work in a ghetto
can apply to receive social security in Germany.
Applications are filed with state agencies. Kent said that
of the 70,000 applications submitted for pensions under this
law, some 95% have been rejected. He said that part of the
problem is the difficulty in proving the voluntariness of the
work and that "each state has its own interpretation of the
law." Kent pointed to cases of siblings with identical
histories where one was found eligible and the other not. To
partly address the problem of eligibility, in 2007 Germany
established a special fund to compensate survivors for
"recognition of work in a ghetto which did not constitute
force labor and which has not been recognized to date under
social insurance law." According to Kent, implementation of
this law has also proven problematic. Since the creation of
this voluntary ghetto labor fund, of the 45,000 applications
submitted, only 15,000 received the one-time lump sum payment
of 2,000 Euros. Regarding the 2002 law, the JCC has argued
that a mechanism is needed to ensure that all of the 16
German states implement the law uniformly. Regarding the
2007 law, the JCC has argued for faster processing of the
cases.



8. (C) Comment: In response to Kent's request for USG
support in efforts to meet JCC goals with Germany, CDA said
that we would explore how we could be of assistance. Post
requests guidance on how best to proceed in addressing these
Holocaust-era compensation issues, both with regard to
responding to JCC's request for support and addressing these
issues with the German government.


Koenig