Restitution for Holocaust Survivors
Since 2000, HIAS Chicago, in collaboration with Holocaust Community Services at CJE SeniorLife, JCFS and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, has provided supportive services to the Chicago Holocaust survivor community and their families.
Assistance in Applying for Reparations
Over the past several years, programs have been developed to compensate victims of the Holocaust for a variety of losses including bank accounts, insurance policies, art, and the loss of their labor without compensation. HIAS Chicago staff assist individuals who are eligible for these funds complete the required applications and gather the required documentation of their suffering at the hands of the Nazis
For a complete listing of programs available to Holocaust Survivors and more detailed explanation of the criteria for the programs mentioned above, visit www.claimscon.org.
For assistancein English or Russian, please contact HIAS Chicago at 312.357.4666.
Child Survivor Fund Launched
Eligible Survivors Should Apply to Receive 2,500 Euro One-Time Payment
Applications have been mailed to approximately 70,000 survivors around the world who the Claims Conference believes may be eligible for its new Child Survivor Fund. The Claims Conference gathered information about these survivors from other compensation programs.
The fund will issue one-time payments of €2,500 (approximately $2,970) to eligible individuals who survived the Shoah as children.
This fund is open to Jewish Nazi victims who were persecuted as Jews and were born 1/1/1928 or later AND who suffered one of the following types of persecution:
(I) Were in a concentration camp; or
(II) Were in a ghetto (or similar place of incarceration in accordance with the German Slave Labor Program); or
(III) Were in hiding or living under false identity for a period of at least 6 months in Nazi-occupied or Axis countries; or
(IV) Were a fetus during time that their mother suffered persecution as described above.
The fund is intended to acknowledge the suffering of Holocaust survivors who endured unimaginable trauma in their childhoods, encompassing a range of experiences that included separation from parents, living in hiding with the terror of being caught, privation and abuse in ghettos and even the horrors of concentration camps, where very few children survived.
Individuals who did not receive an application form in the mail but wish to apply to the Child Survivor Fund may obtain application forms beginning February 1, 2015 by contacting the Claims Conference on that date.
Applications must be submitted by survivors, not heirs. However, if an eligible survivor passes away after an application form is received and registered by the Claims Conference, the surviving spouse is entitled to payment. If there is no surviving spouse, the child(ren) of the eligible child survivor is entitled to the payment.
Blog Post: Russian Speaking Volunteers Help Survivors from the FSU
Like many things in the world, life happens by chance, but with purpose. Igor Litvak, a HIAS Chicago caseworker recently recalled such an experience at the volunteer driven workshop he attended to assist Russian speaking Holocaust survivors. They were filing for restitution for the suffering they endured during WWII.
One of Igor’s clients entered the room with stacks of precious documents carefully folded, stained and well- worn with age. In glancing at the papers, he was astonished that the woman sitting in front of him, who he had never met before, had actually lived within steps of where he had lived in Moscow. If he had not come to this workshop, their paths may not have crossed.
Her story was like his family’s. They were forced to flee during the War, far away to the Ural Mountains by train which took many weeks. Food was rationed, many starved and quite often the cold was unbearable because of limited access to heat and medical care. As he listened to her story and others like hers, he could not help think that how so many lives had instantly changed not only because of the War, but doubly because they were Jews.
Stories like these also meant a lot to a group of 8 young Russian-speaking volunteers who gave of their Sunday on March 26th to do something meaningful for others. It opened doorways to emotion, to pain, to memories of their grandparents and to the many who perished. It reminded them of those who had survived and were burdened with the scars of losing loved ones, of having their properties confiscated and of having little opportunity to make their stories known to the world.
For Larissa, a volunteer and granddaughter of a Rabbi in Belarus who perished during the Holocaust, it was a way to honor his life and a portal to learn more about themselves and their families in the process. “Being Jewish and providing this service to Jews makes it very special. It brings us back to our roots,” said Larissa, who came to the workshop with her husband, Eugene, and his sister, Yana, and her fiancé, Matt. “We came together to know more about who we are and what our families collectively experienced. We came so we would not forget.”
Igor told how he usually asks the survivors he assists a similar question, “If you got this money, how would you spend it? “ There are 3 answers he commonly receives:
- “I would give it to my grandchildren”
- “I would donate it to my synagogue or a Jewish cause. Coming to this country helped me learn about my Jewish heritage.”
- “I would travel and feel what it is like to be free.”