Claims Conference

Claims Conference

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The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation
Damages
In law, damages is an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury; grammatically, it is a singular noun, not plural.- Compensatory damages :...

 and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah
Shoah
Shoah may refer to:*The Holocaust*Shoah , documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann * A Shoah Foundation...

.

Mission statement


An excerpt from the Claim Conference's official mission statement:

The mission of the Claims Conference over its 50-year history has always been to secure what we consider a small measure of justice for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. We have pursued this goal since 1951 through a combination of negotiations, disbursing funds to individuals and organizations, and seeking the return of Jewish property lost during the Holocaust.http://www.claimscon.org/index.asp?url=mission

History


The Claims Conference was founded in 1951 as a body to engage the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 government in negotiations for material compensation for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Nahum Goldmann
Nahum Goldmann
Nahum Goldmann was a leading Zionist and the founder and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress.-Biography:...

, then president of the World Jewish Congress
World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in August 1936 as an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations...

 (JWC), was a cofounder of the Claims Conference, and JWC designates two members to its Board of Directors.

Compensation Programs


As of 2006, the Claims Conference has administered the following programs, which provide direct payments to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Programs were negotiated with the German government and are subject to eligibility criteria determined by the German government. The Conference continually negotiates to expand and liberalize eligibility criteria in order to include additional victims in the programs. In 1978, after 25 years of payments, the total Federal Republic of Germany payments amounted to 53 billion DeutschMarks Payments continue to this day.
  • The Article 2 Fund, a lifetime pension
    Pension
    In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

     for certain persons who were incarcerated in concentration camps, ghetto
    Ghetto
    A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

    s, or forced labor battalions, or who were forced to go into hiding. Eligibility criteria have been negotiated continually with Germany, and include limits on income, established by the German government.

  • The Central and Eastern European Fund, a pension program similar to the Article 2 Fund, which distributes payments to survivors located in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.


  • Fund for Victims of Medical Experiments and Other Injuries Application deadline has expired.

  • Hardship Fund, a one-time payment for Jewish victims of Nazism who emigrated from Soviet bloc countries and meet certain eligibility criteria established by the German government.

  • The Conference also works with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
    International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
    The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims was established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in August 1998 to identify, settle, and pay individual Holocaust era insurance claims at no cost to claimants....

    (ICHIEC) to process claims for unpaid Holocaust era insurance
    Insurance
    In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

     policies. The Conference also administers programs on behalf of the U.S. District Court administering the Swiss Banks Settlement.

Other Programs


The Claims Conference negotiated with the newly united German government in 1990 to enable original Jewish owners and heirs to file claims for properties in the former East Germany. In order that unclaimed properties should not revert to the state or to beneficiaries of Nazi policies, the Claims Conference also negotiated to recover unclaimed formerly Jewish properties in the former East Germany.

The Conference uses proceeds from these properties to allocate funds to social service organizations and institutions that provide assistance to Jewish victims of Nazism. These services include hunger relief, homecare, medical assistance, and emergency cash grants. The Claims Conference also administers social service allocations on behalf of several other sources of restitution funds.

The Conference uses a small portion of the proceeds from the East German properties to support programs engaging in Holocaust education, documentation, and research.

Criticism


The Claims Conference has been criticised recently both for its high staff salaries and of its priorities.

On May 19, 2006, the Jewish Chronicle revealed that the Claims Conference highest-paid official, executive vice-president Gideon Taylor, was awarded $437,811 (£240,000) in salary and pension (2004 numbers).http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?AId=43985&ATypeId=1&search=true2&srchstr=%22Gideon%20Taylor%22&srchtxt=1&srchhead=1&srchauthor=1&srchsandp=1&scsrch=0 An advisor to British survivors in compensation claims in the 1990s, Dr Pinto-Duschinsky, commented: "It is wrong for the executive vice-president to earn annually the same as the compensation for several hundred former slave labourers. The moral authority of the leading Jewish organisations is gravely weakened by excessively high salaries for top officials."http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?AId=43983&ATypeId=1&search=true2&srchstr=%20Pinto-Duschinsky&srchtxt=1&srchhead=1&srchauthor=1&srchsandp=1&scsrch=0

One of the most outspoken critics of the Claims Conference is Isi Leibler, the former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress
World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in August 1936 as an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations...

, who cites allegations of incompetence, impropriety and cover-ups as well as the absence of an independent review board, bureaucratization and a domination by a small clique.

In an article of the Jerusalem Post he says that "the richest Jewish foundation in the world, has still failed to provide adequate financial assistance to elderly and sick Holocaust survivors who live in abject poverty in the twilight of their lives. An organization which boasts that it currently holds in trust $900 million in assets, yet fails to rectify such a condition, must be held accountable for one of the greatest scandals in contemporary Jewish life."

The priorities of the organization have also been criticised. Among the critics is the Claims Conference own treasurer, Roman Kent, a Holocaust survivor, who told the The Jewish Chronicle: "Survivors are suffering. Our only priority should be the survivors, and everything else should be secondary. We are spending money for thousands of projects, but the health of the survivors can't wait. They are dying daily." [..] "I'm not saying that these are bad programmes, but they can wait - or else they should be the responsibility of the world Jewish community, not the Claims Conference.http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?AId=43856&ATypeId=1&search=true2&srchstr=%22Roman%20Kent%22&srchtxt=1&srchhead=1&srchauthor=1&srchsandp=1&scsrch=0

In a 2006 investigative report, it was claimed the organization, while having $1.7 billion in its accounts, finances welfare assistance for only 9,000 survivors while "tens of millions of dollars each year" are spent on management expenses with the balance going largely to organisations having little to do with the Holocaust or its survivors.

Amidst this mounting criticism, the office of Germany's independent federal auditor announced it was considering an investigation of the Claims Conference in June 2008.

Fraud Allegations


On November 9, 2010, the US Attorney's Office, announced an indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 against 11 employees of the Claims Conference for fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 and embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 of over $42 million dollars.

The conspirators allegedly took out ads in Russian Language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 newspapers for people who were of a plausible age to have lived through World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and coached them using their detailed knowledge of the history of the Nazi holocaust to make fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks.

See also

  • World Jewish Congress
    World Jewish Congress
    The World Jewish Congress was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in August 1936 as an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations...

  • Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany
    Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany
    The Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany was signed on September 10, 1952, and entered in force on March 27, 1953...

  • International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
    International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
    The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims was established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in August 1998 to identify, settle, and pay individual Holocaust era insurance claims at no cost to claimants....

  • Bona vacantia
    Bona vacantia
    Bona vacantia is a legal concept associated with property that has no owner. It exists in various jurisdictions, with consequently varying application, but with origins mostly in English law.-Canada:...


External links