Holocaust survivors around world to get token payments

new york (ap) | Nearly 16,000 Holocaust survivors and heirs will receive $1,000 checks as “token payments’ on insurance policies that vanished in the chaos of World War II, an international commission on postwar claims said Tuesday, March 30.

The $16 million will go to recipients in 62 countries based on anecdotal evidence that they once held life insurance policies issued by European companies. The checks were mailed March 30.

The payments were announced by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, established in 1998 to investigate and resolve survivors’ claims of lost or unpaid policies. The commission has a fund of $500 million for insurance claims and other humanitarian purposes.

The 15,890 claims include 5,061 people in Israel, 4,867 in the United States and the rest in countries ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

Jewish leaders said the announcement was bittersweet because insurers had refused for so long to settle claims from the Nazi era.

“Late justice is faulty justice,’ said Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress.

ICHEIC chairman Lawrence Eagleburger said the group sought to “morally address the wrongs done to Holocaust victims.’ He added: “These payments are only a token, but they represent efforts to attain a small measure of justice.’

Insurers in the settlement include AXA of France, the Swiss companies Winterthur and Zurich, Alliance of Germany and Generali of Italy, which either issued such policies or have ties to now-defunct firms that did.

In all, the commission has reviewed some 40,000 claims and paid out $66 million prior to the latest batch, which brings the total to $82 million, said Mara Rudman, the commission’s chief operating officer.