Depending on their experiences, victims of Nazism might be entitled to receive a compensation and/or social security pension from Germany and/or other European countries.
The AJR is recognised to notarise all German and Austrian pension life certificates.
The German government provides for three types of pension or monthly payment for Holocaust survivors:
Many people who once held German citizensship were employed before the Second World War and paid regular social security insurance contributions. After the war, people continued to pay their contributions and now receive a state retirement pension. Those who were too young to have worked before the war had the opportunity to ‘buy’ a pension from Germany by initially paying a lump sum (NB. This arrangement is no longer possible as the deadline expired in December 1992).
Also entitled to a German pension are certain mothers who were responsible for bringing up children born after 1939 and before 1950. This particular type of pension is known as Kindererziehung or child rearing allowance and there is no deadline to apply.
These pensions are known collectively as Altersrente and are paid from one of two authorities: Hamburg (LvA) for blue-collar workers and Berlin (DRB) for white-collar:
Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord
Phone +49 (0)40 5300-1315
Fax +49 (0)40 5300-1171315
Tel: 0049 30 865 1
Fax: 0049 30 865 27240
Enacted in June 2002 the Ghetto Law (ZRBG) grants a social security pension to Holocaust victims who were inmates in ghettos under Nazi occupation and were “engaged in voluntary employment for remuneration”.
The ZRBG extends the terms of a 1997 law which entitled Holocaust survivors from the Lodz ghetto to apply for a pension in respect of the work they did for the German state.
As the ZRBG is not a compensation pension, applicants should not refer to persecution in their statements, regardless of their experience. Reference must, however, be made to having received payment for any work done, even ‘payment in kind’. It is though possible to receive both compensation (see below) and ghetto pensions.
For UK citizens, applications for a ghetto pension should be sent to the Hamburg pension authority (LvA), details as above. There is no deadline to apply.
Following a court ruling in Germany in May 2009 it is now possible for people whose applications for a ghetto pension were rejected, to have these claims reviewed. The court has ruled that the previous eligibility criteria were too restrictive and that as a result peoples’ claims were unjustly rejected.
Approximately 70,000 people applied for a ghetto pension but around 60,000 claims were rejected. The original eligibility criteria were extremely difficult to satisfy and the pension authorities came under immediate pressure to liberalise the conditions that must be met.
Matters were further complicated because of the subsequent introduction of the Ghetto Fund introduced in response to the huge numbers of rejected claims for the Ghetto pension. The Ghetto Fund paid a one-time award of EUR 2,000 for people who worked in a ghetto. One of the conditions upon receiving this payment is that if someone was subsequently awarded the Ghetto pension, they would have to repay the EUR 2,000.
We are advising those whose Ghetto pension claims were rejected to write to the pension authority which turned down their claim to ask for a review. In circumstances where a husband or wife applied but has since passed away a widow/er can pursue the claim.
It is still possible for those who have not yet applied for a ghetto pension to do so.
To download the English version of the ghetto pension application form click here
To view further information about the Ghetto pension click here
Under a 1952 German law, those incarcerated in concentration camps and other Holocaust survivors were entitled to claim lump sum compensation or a pension in respect of their persecution. A series of compensation laws also provided reparation for loss of parents, education and livelihood as well as facilitating the return of stolen properties and confiscated assets.
These pensions and payments are known collectively in German as Wiedergutmachung and often as the acronym of the German compensation law, Bundesentschädigungsgesetz or BEG. Recipients of these BEG payments can, in some cases, also benefit from additional programmes, including visits to health spas, known in German as Kurs, and can, in instances of deteriorating health, apply for an increase in their pension.
These pensions and payments, for which the deadline to apply passed at the end of 1969, are paid from a number of authorities in Germany. The principal agencies for UK beneficiaries are Berlin, Hannover, Saarburg and Düsseldorf (the national BEG office):
Postfach 30 08 65
Tel: 0049 211 475 0
Fax: 0049 211 475 3976
The Article II Fund (Claims Conference)
Through the Claims Conference the German government supports the Article II Fund, which was established following the reunification of Germany in 1990 to pay compensation to those who missed the opportunity of claiming the above BEG. The Article II Fund makes monthly awards of €291 (approx. £270) to survivors who meet the strict eligibility criteria, which include having been incarcerated in a ghetto or concentration camp for a minimum of six months or having experienced loss of liberty.
The Article II Fund is also restricted to Holocaust survivors whose income does not exceed $16,000 (approximately £10,000). Where an applicant is married, the couple’s joint income must not be greater than $21,000 (approx. £13,000). In cases where both partners are submitting Article II claims the combined income limit is $31,500 (approx. £19,500).
The Hardship Fund (Claims Conference)
The Claims Conference also pays lump sum compensation from the Hardship Fund, which was established in 1980 to pay a one time reparation of €2,500 (approx. £1,500) to survivors who were refugees from Soviet bloc countries. Western persecutees – Nazi victims who were citizens of certain western countries (including Austria) at the time of persecution and when post-war agreements were reached between that country and Germany – are not currently receiving payments from the Hardship Fund. There is no deadline to apply for either the Hardship or Article II Funds.
UK applicants should contact the Frankfurt office of the Claims Conference for enquiries about Article II and Hardship Fund payments as well as for claims to the Central East European Fund, which provides awards to residents of former communist countries only.
Potential applicants of persons who already applied and need to contact the Claims Conference should use the information on their website: www.claimscon.org/about/contact-us
Austrian Holocaust survivors can now benefit from a wider range of social security measures as a result of amendments to the Victims Assistance Act (Opferfürsorgegesetz) and the General Social Act (Sozialversicherungsgesetz), which came into force on 1 March 2002.
Those victims of Nazism who meet the requirements of the Federal Law on Nursing Allowance are entitled to a monthly benefit corresponding to the level of need. Pfleggegeld (nursing care allowance) is now paid to former Austrians resident in the UK according to seven levels of need, where category 1 applicants require only minimal assistance while category 7 patients are unable to move arms and legs. Prior to the above change in the law, Holocaust survivors living outside Austria were entitled to an allowance only up to category 2. Payments already granted will remain unaffected. A physician appointed by the Austrian embassy must carry out assessments.
Austria also pays two types of pension to Holocaust victims, eligibility for which has been expanded in recent years:
Social security pension rights (ASVG)
Former Austrians born between 1 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 are now entitled to buy retroactively a minimum level pension from the Austrian state at a preferential rate.
Victims pension (Opferfürsorgegesetz)
Paid to Holocaust victims interned in Austria in concentration camps or similar conditions.
Enquiries concerning all pensions and social security payments may be addressed to the Austrian pension authority (PvA):
der Angestellten (PvA)
Friedrich-Hillegeist Strasse 1
Tel: 0043 1 211 35 0
Fax: 0043 1 211 35 27153
Austrian pensioners can now have their pensions paid direct from the PvA to an account in the UK thereby avoiding Austrian bank charges. Applications for the ‘Direct Transfer of an Austrian Pension to Abroad’ are available from the AJR. Pensioners receiving the annuities in this way are required to have their life certificate signed only once a year and do not then need to maintain an account at an Austrian bank.
A WUV pension is paid to those who were Dutch nationals during WWII and who are identified and recognised as victims of the Second World War. The pension is paid as a top up to any other social security payments a survivor may already receive. To qualify, an applicant must obtain a recommendation from their doctor and complete a medical assessment carried out by a physician recommended by the Dutch embassy.
Separate to the pension, victims can also apply for a number of social benefits including physiotherapy, psychotherapy and home help (up to four hours per week). These benefits are paid over the period of time the treatment is required. A recognised victim can also be reimbursed for treatments for which payment has already been made.
The French government pays compensation to orphans whose parents were deported from France during the Second World War. Applications are restricted to people who were under twenty-one at the time and who had one or both parents murdered as a consequence of deportation by the French collaborationist authorities.
Precluded from an application are those victims who are already receiving a compensation pension from either the German or Austrian government. Recipients of a social security pension from either Germany or Austria can apply, however.
Those eligible will receive either a one-time payment of approx £18,000 or a monthly pension of approx £300.
Applications should be addressed to:
Ministere de la Defense
Direction des Statuts des Pensions et de la Reinsertion Sociale
Rue Neuve de Bourg L’Abbey
14037 Caen Cedex
Telephone: 0033 231 384 506
In April 2003, the Belgian Parliament approved pension payments (of only £100 per year) to be paid to those who were hidden, were orphans or were deported during the Second World War. Applicants must be Belgian citizens but do not have to reside there.
An applicant for the Belgian rente cannot be in receipt of other Belgian disability awards but someone benefiting from an Austrian or German pension is entitled to apply.
Further details can be obtained from:
Avenue Ducpetiaux 68
Tel: 00 32 2 538 75 97