Congressional resolutions seek to help survivors

Holocaust survivor Norman Frajman of Boynton Beach and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) at a March meeting in Boca Raton set up by Deutch with members of the German Parliament to detail the need for increased

Congressional resolutions seek to have German government pay to help needy Holocaust survivors

As Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Ha'Shoah) rolls around again this year on Thursday, May 5, survivors throughout South Florida (and around the country) are pleased by a new development concerning their health and well-being.

On Friday, April 22, U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) — as well as U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — introduced resolutions In Congress urging the German government to "fulfill its moral responsibility to Holocaust survivors and to urgently provide the financial resources necessary to ensure that survivors live in dignity and comfort in their remaining years."

Jack Rubin of Boynton Beach — a survivor of Auschwitz and several other Nazi death camps, as well as a member of the executive committee of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA — has worked toward bringing about these sort of resolutions for years and was very pleased with the news of their drafting.

"For decades, we have pleaded with anyone who would listen about the massive suffering among Holocaust survivors because of the failure of Claims Conference negotiations with Germany to provide all the funds survivors need for proper care," Rubin said in a recent email. "So, Holocaust survivors are deeply grateful for these resolutions.

"We hope and pray that the full House and Senate will unanimously adopt these resolutions with the urgency they deserve. And we hope and pray that ChancellorMerkel [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] and the German government will take the necessary steps — with the support of the German people — to once and for all assume full responsibility to provide for the full medically prescribed needs of the survivors of the Holocaust."

The issue of helping Holocaust survivors also has long been a personal mission for Deutch, who lives in Boca Raton and is Jewish — and has been a staunch advocate for the Jewish community in South Florida both before and during his initial election to Congress in 2010.

"I became a co-chair of the Congressional Study Group from Germany several years ago with the expressed purpose of helping increase aid to Holocaust survivors," Deutch said. "I made this appeal directly to Chancellor Merkel last year and to various officials in the German government. And we brought a group from the German Bundestag [Parliament] to South Florida in March — including having a meeting directly related to Holocaust survivors — so they could see first-hand how the funding their government provides helps our aging survivor population, and why there are still gaps in services."

According to Deutch, as survivors age each year, their needs are growing.

Deutch said in a recent press release from his office. "Tragically, more and more survivors are falling into poverty and lack the funds to cover essential needs. Right now, we are facing a unique and critical moment in history with this high-level negotiation [between the German government and the Claims Conference] moving forward. Germany can make a major difference in the lives of so many Holocaust survivors who are struggling in their later years."

Added Ros-Lehtinen in the release: "While the German government has made a commitment over the years to provide justice for Holocaust victims, it has a moral obligation to do more to ensure that all survivors get the justice and care they need and deserve."

These resolutions follow an exchange of correspondence between members of Congress and the German Finance Ministry in December of 2015, in which representatives of the German government acknowledged that "recent experience has shown that the care financed by the German government to date is insufficient" and that "it is imperative to expand these assistance measures quickly given the advanced age of many of the affected persons."

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