– A German program to compensate Holocaust survivors for their suffering during World War II has been extended to cover around 6,500 other survivors, including thousands of Jews who survived the siege of Leningrad. They will receive the equivalent of $ 435 per month for the rest of their lives under an agreement between the German government and the Claims Conference, which deals with claims on behalf of survivors, the New York Times reports. The $ 767 million deal also covers around 1,200 survivors from Romania and 800 from France. Pension payments will be made retroactively from July.
Stuart Eizenstat, the group’s main negotiator, said German authorities argued that non-Jews also suffered during the 872-day siege. “We were able to show them Nazi leaflets which were abandoned and which said the Jews were the cause of the siege,” he said. “So their level of persecution was higher. Eizenstat, former US ambassador to the European Union, congratulated the German negotiators, born long after the end of the war, for having recognized their “moral responsibility” towards the survivors. According to the Claims Conference, about 50% of Holocaust survivors live in poverty and many suffer more health problems than other seniors because they were deprived of nutrition as children.
An estimated one million Leningrad residents died during the siege. Jewish survivor Nonna Revzina was 5 when Nazi forces surrounded the city in what was then the Soviet Union. She tells the AP that she remembers her mother taking her father’s body on a sled after he died of starvation and illness in 1942. Revzina, 85, now lives in a Berlin home for the elderly Jewish . She says the extra 375 euros per month will make a big difference. “The pension is very useful for me,” she said. “I like going to cafes. I can do it more often now.” Eizenstat says the group will continue to seek benefits until “the last survivor dies.”