May 2005 Journal

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Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Payments to victims of Nazi medical experiments

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany is making second payments to 2,432 Jewish victims of Nazi medical experiments. These survivors will now receive $3,200 (approximately £1,800 or €2,450) in addition to the $5,400 they each received last year.

From the $5 billion Foundation: Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, established primarily to pay compensation to slave and forced labourers, more than $12.5 million will have been distributed to victims of medical experiments, who today live in 33 countries. Please note that it is no longer possible to file applications for either slave and forced labour or for compensation for medical experiments.

Income tax exemption for reparation pensions

Further to recent requests to clarify the status of pensions paid by the Austrian and German governments, Section 330 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 confirms that pensions and allowances paid to victims of Nazism are exempt from income tax.

The central part of the law states that 'Annuities and pensions payable under any special provision for victims of National-Socialist persecution which is made by the law of the Federal Republic of Germany or any part of it or of Austria shall not be regarded as income for any income tax purpose.'

The exemption extends to back payments made prior to the commencement of a pension. Further, although back payments are a lump sum, they are exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

Further help

Written enquiries should be sent to Central Office for Holocaust Claims (UK), Jubilee House, Merrion Avenue, Stanmore, Middx HA7 4RL, by fax to 020 8385 3075, or by email to Assistance can be provided strictly by appointment at the Holocaust Survivors' Centre in Hendon, north London. For an appointment, please telephone 020 8385 3074.

Around & about
with Ronald Channing

London's splendid Jewish Museum, though sited away from the aficionados' and tourists' main exhibition routes, quietly declaims its presence in a sedate street between Camden Town and Regents Park. With the opening of its latest exhibition on a century of immigration provocatively entitled 'Closing the Door?', it has certainly reached out to a much wider community than before.

A departure for the Museum from the strictly Jewish themes adhered to hitherto, the exhibition focuses on immigration into Britain since the passing of the Aliens Act of 1905. This act was undeniably drafted to deter or to keep out Jews escaping poverty, persecution and pogrom in Eastern Europe, though we are advised that it had only a peripheral effect. But that's only the exhibition's starting point. It moves on to remind visitors of the continual arrival of people into Britain from other ethnic groups and cultures who have settled in the intervening century, who have all made positive contributions to their country of adoption.

'Closing the Door? Immigrants to Britain 1905-2005' examines the arguments used to oppose Jewish immigration in 1905 and looks at how these same arguments have been continually recycled as new groups of immigrants arrived in changing political and economic circumstances. The exhibition draws on personal stories, photographs, documents, costumes, religious objects, paintings and sculpture, and even cooking utensils and musical instruments. These help the visitor to consider issues that have affected different generations of immigrants - the challenges to find housing, employment and healthcare, the acquisition of a new language while retaining valued cultural traditions, and the hostility often encountered on the part of the existing community.

Designed in a bold colour scheme to catch the eye, the exhibition's commentary does not overtax the visitor with an excess of information. The only pity is the obvious constraint placed on the Museum by the paucity of display space, due at some stage to be remedied by a major expansion programme - funding permitting.

Opening the exhibition, Sir Trevor McDonald suggested that it could not have been better timed. 'It reminds us of how we got here', he said, pointing out that migration had never been one-way traffic. Emigrants from Britain had settled in many parts of the world, especially English-speaking North America and Australasia and, as a result, it had been logical for him as a young Trinidadian journalist to further his career in the mother country. 'The reprise of old arguments was extraordinary', he said. It was better to 'celebrate the benefits brought by the arrivals'.

The 'Closing the Door?' exhibition is open until 21 August. 'The Last Goodbye, The Rescue of Children from Nazi Europe' has opened at the Finchley branch of the Jewish Museum and runs until 2 October. Both exhibitions are accompanied by a stimulating series of talks. For further information, telephone 020 7284 1997 or 020 8349 1143.

previous article:Diary of a sensitive man (review)