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Holocaust meeting wants better care of survivors

 Main U.S. negotiator on the compensation of wartime slave and forced labor victims Stuart Eizenstat addresses media during a press conferene during t...
 Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yehuda Bauer addresses media during a press conference during the Holocaust Era ...

Czech Republic Holocaust Conference

Main U.S. negotiator on the compensation of wartime slave and forced labor victims Stuart Eizenstat addresses media during a press conferene during t...

Czech Republic Holocaust Conference

Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yehuda Bauer addresses media during a press conference during the Holocaust Era ...

An international conference assessing efforts to return property and possessions stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners or heirs said Monday that caring for Holocaust survivors is a matter of the "utmost urgency."
The five-day meeting attended by Holocaust survivors, Jewish groups and government officials was a follow-up to a 1998 meeting in Washington that led to agreements on recovering looted art.
Six million Jews perished at the hands of Adolf Hitler and his followers, who seized billions of dollars of gold, art and private and communal property across Europe.
In a declaration approved by 46 countries, delegates said they were aware that Holocaust survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution have reached an advanced age and that meeting their social welfare needs must be prioritized.
"It is unacceptable that those who suffered so greatly during the earlier part of their lives should live under impoverished circumstances at the end," the declaration said.
The declaration also urged governments to make every effort to return former Jewish communal and religious property confiscated by Nazis, fascists and their collaborators and recommended that states implement national programs to also address the issue of private buildings and land.
Before the Holocaust, Jews owned property in Europe that was worth between $10 billion and $15 billion at the time, according to a 2007 study by economist Sidney Zabludoff.
Most of that was never repaid, translating into a missing $115 billion to $175 billion in current prices, the study said. Many Western European governments paid restitution for only a fraction of the stolen assets, while Eastern European countries under Soviet control paid almost nothing at all, it said.
"We're just coming to terms with the dimension of the theft," said Stuart Eizenstat, head of the U.S. delegation.
Eizenstat hailed the declaration as the "the most far reaching, most comprehensive" ever issued.
The declaration "covers every single area including many that haven't been covered before, social needs, private property restitution, which has always been an extraordinarily sensitive issue," he said.
Eizenstat said surveys conducted in New York City found that 36 percent of Holocaust survivors are at or below the poverty level.
Delegates also agreed to create a European Shoah Legacy Institute in the former Jewish ghetto in Terezin, north of Prague. Eizenstat said it is expected to publish a set of guidelines and principles for best practices in private property restitution.
Not everyone was pleased with the declaration, which is not legally binding.
"I don't see any forward movement," said Alex Moskovic, a 78-year-old U.S. Holocaust survivor.
"Greater survivor involvement in the formulation of the conference agenda and working groups would have produced a better result," he said.
The five-day gathering concludes Tuesday with a commemorative ceremony in Terezin, known to the Nazis as Theresienstadt.
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On the Net:
http://www.holocausteraassets.eu


Updated : 2021-07-31 18:20 GMT+08:00