Parliament urges Germany to hike Nazi victims' pensions
The German parliament urged the government Friday to raise the pensions paid out to Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union living in Germany to redress what it called an enduring injustice.
"The Bundesrat (upper house) calls on the federal government to recognise Jewish Holocaust victims from the former Soviet Union as 'persons persecuted by the Nazi regime' and to create the legal basis for independent pension claims for these people," it said in a resolution.
"Due to the age of the Holocaust survivors, we call on the federal government to table a draft law without delay."
The Bundesrat, which represents Germany's 16 states, said that the Jewish former prisoners of concentrations and ghettos had fallen victim to a legal loophole that exempted them from the list of recognised victims of the Nazis.
As such, they were not entitled to state pensions accorded to people persecuted under the Third Reich and were thus dependent on much smaller monthly subsistence payments.
A policy approved in January 1991 allowed Jewish Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union to emigrate to Germany as refugees.
That status, however, has meant they had no right to state pensions for Nazi victims and must even report any savings they had accumulated, for example from support payments from the Jewish Claims Conference.
Those funds are then counted against them when calculating their welfare payments in Germany.
The Bundesrat could not immediately provide an estimate of how many people would be affected by a change in policy.
Germany has paid out the equivalent of more than 67 billion euros ($97 billion) to victims of the Nazis including survivors of concentration camps, ghettos or forced work camps.
During the Cold War, West Germany only offered restitution to people living in the West and referred those living in the Eastern bloc to the government of communist East Germany, which refused to assume any responsibility for Hitler's crimes.
After German unification in 1990 and following negotiations with the Jewish Claims Conference, the country agreed to establish a new fund for Holocaust survivors from eastern Europe.
© 2011 AFP