Thousands of Holocaust survivors originally from Poland will benefit from a payment program from the Polish government, this according to a recently released statement from the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).
The Legislation on War Veterans and Victims of War and Post-War Oppression offers monthly payments for those who were: detained by the Nazis in ghettos, prisons, concentration camps, extermination camps, or similar places of detention; forcibly deported to the Soviet Union; served in the Polish military, the Polish units of the Allied militaries, or in the Polish underground during World War II; or otherwise considered a veteran or a victim of oppression.
The new legislation allows for Polish Holocaust survivors worldwide to receive the payments. Eligible applicants qualify for monthly payments of about PLN 400 (about $130) from Poland.
WJRO has put the latest information on the program online, including all the information mailed to survivors: www.polishrestitution.com/pensions.
Drawing from its records of Holocaust compensation payments, the Claims Conference identified survivors who may be eligible for this program, informing them of the opportunity to apply. The Claims Conference also mailed these survivors an application and informed local social services agencies that may help survivors in their communities with the paperwork.
The Claims Conference and WJRO, working with the Auschwitz Jewish Center, also addressed a Polish government requirement that may have impeded applicants.
The Polish government requires applicants living outside Poland to appoint a proxy within Poland to receive official communications. This requirement would have been onerous for survivors without family or friends remaining in Poland.
At the request of the Claims Conference and WJRO, the Auschwitz Jewish Center has generously agreed to serve – free of charge – as a proxy for survivors. Along with its letter to potentially eligible survivors, the Claims Conference mailed a form that applicants must send to the Auschwitz Jewish Center if they would like the organization to serve as their proxy.
The Polish government administers all applications and payments. Neither the Claims Conference nor WJRO can accept applications or determine eligibility.
Poland has passed legislation for the return of communal property to the Jewish community and other religious groups. Yet it remains the only major country in Central and Eastern Europe without a law to restore or compensate for private property confiscated during the Holocaust and/or subsequently nationalized by the Communist regime.
Although previous Polish governments had pledged to enact legislation concerning private property – such a move would benefit both Jewish and non-Jewish rightful owners – the current government has declined to support such restitution or compensation laws.
If you think that you are eligible, or for other questions and information about application requirements, please contact the Polish Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression:
Tel: +(48) 22-661-81-29 (during Polish work hours)
Fax: +(48) 22-661-90-73
Wspólna 2/4, 00-926 Warsaw, Poland