For ghetto survivors, pension deadline looms

BERLIN — Time is running out for survivors of Nazi ghettos to apply for retroactive German pensions, an advocacy group in Germany is warning.

Applications received after June 30 will not be eligible for payments going back to 1997, Lothar Evers, director of the German Association for information and Support to Survivors of Nazi Persecution said. The German government does not plan to extend the deadline.

Later applicants still may be eligible for a regular pension, but not for back payments.

A simple letter of application is sufficient to meet the deadline. U.S. and Canadian applicants should write to LVA Hamburg, Uberseering 10, 22297 Hamburg, Germany.

The letter should include basic details such as the applicant's name, age, place of birth, location, period of time in the ghetto and the job he or she did there.

Evers said the German government has not done its part to inform survivors around the world of the deadline. He said his group is trying to reach Jewish organizations in Eastern Europe who are least likely to be aware of the date.

Meanwhile, Volker Beck, a German legislator from the Green Party, has been pressuring Germany's Ministry for Health and Social Security to extend the deadline, to no avail.

Those who worked in ghettos, as well as the widows and widowers of such survivors, are eligible for the pensions, even if they already have received compensation from the German government fund for slave laborers, according to the Maryland-based Support for Survivors of Nazi Persecution International, which works with Evers' group.

Late applicants will be eligible for payments of more than $250 per month, but only from the time their petitions are received, he explained.

In the United States, the telephone hotline is (800) 467-0191. Background in English is also available at the group's Web site,

Evers' organization can also provide information, at 011-49-0221-612-041.

Toby Axelrod

Toby Axelrod is JTA’s correspondent for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A former assistant director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office, she has also worked as staff writer and editor at the New York Jewish Week and published books on Holocaust history for teenagers.