Germany pays pensions to SS vets but not Jews

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In an open letter to German President Roman Herzog and to the German Bundestag parliament, Bergmann charged Bonn with treating the impoverished victims of Nazism in the Baltic states like "beggars to whom one has neither a moral nor a legal responsibility."

The government's offer would provide 314 Jewish claimants in the Baltic states with 40 German marks a month, according to Winfried Nachtwei, a member of the Bundestag from the opposition Greens Party, who with some colleagues has been privately collecting money to assist survivors.

There are an estimated 125 Waffen SS veterans, whose pensions may be as high as 300 marks a month, according to Nachtwei. There may be as many as 116 Jewish Latvian survivors alive.

The Nazis occupied Latvia in July 1941. Many Latvians viewed the German occupation as a form of liberation from the Soviet Union.

In turn, Germany exploited anti-Soviet sentiment to engage Latvians in auxiliary forces and in the Waffen SS. As veterans of the Waffen SS, Latvians are entitled to benefits.