Some 8,000 Israelis who were born in Romania and have never been recognized as Holocaust victims have now been accredited that status. As a result, they will receive survivors’ benefits of between NIS 2,400 and NIS 2,800 a month, as well as retroactive payments of between NIS 96,000 and NIS 192,000.
The status change affects Israelis who were formerly residents of 20 cities in Romania, who were born before 1928 and lived or worked in open ghettos in the country during World War II. Those eligible also immigrated to Israel before October 1, 1953.
The pensions and reparations are being paid by Germany, and comes after months of negotiations, the Ministry for Social Equality said. The negotiations were initiated and led by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel. A report in Ha’aretz quoted ministry officials as saying that reparations had not been paid until now because the Germans did not classify “open ghettos” as places of forced labor. An open ghetto did not have walls or fences, but there were still severe penalties for leaving or living outside one without a permit, so they do qualify as Nazi ghettos, Yad Vashem said. Eventually, the Germans accepted the Yad Vashem definition.
The retroactive payment is being made for 20 years worth of payments, and those payments alone will cost Germany NIS 1.53 billion. Heirs of eligible individuals whose forebears were born after 1910 and died after June 1, 2002, will be eligible for the retroactive payment, the ministry said.