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Gypsies Receive Holocaust Payments

March 18, 1998

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ A Swiss fund for Holocaust victims made its first payment Wednesday to Gypsy survivors of Hitler’s concentration camps.

Three Gypsies, now 58- to 78-years-old and living on social security payments, received $1,380 each at a ceremony in the German town of Singen.

They are among 45 Gypsies _ now living in Germany, France, Spain and Canada _ on whose behalf an organization to support Gypsies submitted an application.

The other 42 will receive their payments shortly, the fund said in a statement.

The fund president, Rolf Bloch, emphasized the ``symbolic importance of recognizing this group of Holocaust victims.″

About 88 percent of the fund, created last year, is intended to aid destitute Jewish survivors of the Nazis, especially those in eastern Europe who were denied Western assistance during decades of communist rule.

The remaining 12 percent is to help non-Jewish survivors, including homosexuals, political opponents of the Nazis and Gypsies, who prefer to be known as Roma.

Swiss banks and industry have given $190 million to the fund. The first payments were made in November in Riga, Latvia.

Most recipients so far have received $415. The higher payout to the Roma ``takes into account the higher cost of living in western Europe,″ the fund said.

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