U.S. Holocaust Victims Compensated
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The German government has sent about $18 million to the United States for distribution to more than 200 Americans who survived Nazi concentration camps, a State Department official said today.
The settlement was confirmed by Ronald Bettauer, a State Department negotiator, who said not all the claimants will receive the same amount.
The United States and Germany agreed to keep secret details of the basis for how much each individual claimant would receive, he said. The funds were wired without announcement to the Treasury Department by the German government June 9.
Bettauer declined to specify the number of claimants but USA Today reported there are 235.
The reparations grew out of a 1995 settlement of a 40-year-old court fight by concentration camp survivor Hugo Princz. The New Jersey man and 10 other Americans split $2.1 million from the German government in that case, which prompted a fresh U.S. review.
Attorney General Janet Reno asked the Justice Department’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to try to determine how many other Americans might be eligible for German compensation. More than 1,360 claims were filed, but the U.S. government sought reparations only for those who were held in recognized concentration camps.
As a result, hundreds of Americans, including U.S. soldiers who were prisoners of war and U.S. citizens who worked in slave labor camps, were turned away, according to attorneys representing those claimants. The settlement does not involve people who became American citizens after having survived concentration camps.
Before the German government approved the $18 million, Frank Barwacz of Chicago called the prospective settlement ``better late than never.″ He was liberated from Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, by British troops.
``The pain is still with me,″ Barwacz said. ``I have many nightmares. I’m crying at night in my sleep, especially seeing those Jewish children going to the gas chamber.″ Barwacz could not be reached for comment today.
Bettauer said the claimants have received the paperwork on the rewards. ``The claimants who’ve gotten back to us seem to be quite happy,″ he said.