During World War II, German Nazis persecuted and killed millions of people simply because of their ethnicity. Now an organization that handles reparations for victims of Nazi terror says Germany will increase payments to Jews directly affected.
In the early 20th century, reparations was a term for penalties. Often these were monetary payments determined by the victors of a war. Today, people view reparations mostly as compensation for human rights violations. These include payments to descendants after the fact. For example, some modern Native American tribes have received money for the injustices and abuses of early U.S. settlers in seizing tribal land.
Appeals for slavery reparations have been called for since soon after the Civil War. Back then, payments would have gone to the formerly enslaved individuals. Sadly, that never happened. Some people still hope to see the distant descendants of enslaved persons given reparations.
World War II ended just about 77 years ago. Since 1952, the German government has paid about $90 billion to individuals for suffering and losses inflicted by the Nazi regime.
Today, all living Holocaust survivors are elderly. Many suffer medical problems from being deprived of proper nutrition when they were young. Most survivors came out of the war with no belongings. Many still live in poverty today. Tragically, a large number of those survivors also live isolated, having lost entire families in the war.
Last year, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany distributed $653 million. The money went to hundreds of social service agencies worldwide.
The agencies help frail and vulnerable Holocaust survivors who are still alive—not their descendants. They help ensure that home care, medical care, emergency aid, and food are available for those who need it.
This year, officials of the Claims Conference will distribute another $720 million. The funds will help provide for approximately 120,000 impoverished Holocaust survivors.
Gideon Taylor is the organization’s president. “We are proud to announce this significant allocation,” he says. It comes “at a time when these funds are critical, due to the age, poverty, and increasing disability of our waning survivor population.”
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed. — Proverbs 19:17
Why? Jesus says the poor will always be with us. (Matthew 26:11) Showing compassion and mercy toward the needy reflects God’s own heart toward fellow image bearers.