Holocaust survivors still left to count the terrible cost of war
A $210 million compensation fund, created in 2001, seemed to offer some compensation for their losses. But five years on, the money remains elusive. Holocaust survivors who should be benefiting are ageing and, increasingly, dying. So far, no claim has been paid out.
Peter Phillips talks of his 'extreme frustration' at the delays. He was aged three and then called Peter Pfeffer when his parents had to leave Vienna hurriedly in 1939 after his father, a doctor, had been tipped off by a patient that he was marked down on a list for Dachau.
Evi Labi also managed to escape with her parents - in her case within hours of the Nazi occupation of Austria in March 1938. Her father had worked for the previous Austrian government, and their apartment in Vienna was occupied and ransacked almost immediately after the Nazis arrived in the city.
'My story is one of many,' she says. Then aged 15, she recounts the terrible time when their apartment was first invaded. 'They opened the front door, and said to passersby "Come and help yourself to Persian rugs",' she recalls. Within hours, she found herself a refugee, without even the money for a toothbrush.
Mr Phillips, Evi Labi and a small number of fellow Austrian refugees have now created the Austrian Restitution Group which is pressing the Austrian government for action. Both say that it is the principle of compensation, rather than the money itself, which is important.
But for some fellow refugees, clearly the money is a real need. Mr Phillips says that between 30 and 40 people who have made claims to the compensation fund have approached the Group for help in recent months. 'Some people are really hard up,' he says. 'People ask me, "Herr Phillips, when will we get the money?" The answer is, I haven't the faintest idea.'
The Austrian compensation fund, known as the General Settlement Fund, has been controversial from the start. It was created by the Austrian government after pressure from Jewish organisations and was part of a process which saw similar compensation schemes set up by German and Swiss banks and insurers. However, the total in the General Settlement Fund, $210m, has been criticised for being unrealistically low. There is no suggestion that families will receive anything like full compensation.
comments powered by Disqus
- New documentary explores the legacy of the 5,000 Rosenwald schools set up by a Sears magnate and Booker T. Washington
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- It happened in Idaho and was the largest massacre of Indians in US history, but where exactly did it take place?
- Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint.
- Isis destruction of Palmyra's Temple of Bel revealed in satellite images
- Two scholars from UT object to the Texas school's decision to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis
- A history professor explains why Americans are so prone to conspiracy theories
- Now Greg Grandin has come out with a study of Henry Kissinger
- Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots
- Holocaust-denying historian David Irving organises 'disgusting' £2,000-a-head holiday tours of former concentration camps and Hitler's HQ so people can 'make up their own mind about the truth'