|UCSJ Action Alert!|
TO: SUPPORTERS OF FSU JEWS AND IMMIGRANTS
FROM: Si Frumkin, UCSJ board member and chair Of The Southern California Council For Soviet Jews
DATE: August 25, 1997
RE: Legislative Campaign to Compensate Destitute Holocaust Survivors in the U.S.
Action is needed to encourage members of Congress to support the Justice for Holocaust Survivors Act (HR 1531). This legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), seeks to allow U.S. citizens who were not citizens during World War II to sue Germany for compensation in U.S. courts. The bill would amend the Foreign Sovereigns Immunity Act, which currently shields the German Federal Republic from suits by U.S. citizens who were victims of the Holocaust.
This legislation is an important and unprecedented move that would allow many of the old, sick and helpless survivors get the assistance to which they are entitled.
Contact your representatives as quickly as possible and urge them to support HR 1531. If they require more information about the bill's specific provisions, please direct them to Dan Link, Congresswoman Slaughter's aide who is coordinating this legislative effort. Congresswoman Slaughter's Washington address is 2347 Rayburn Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515, phone: 202-225-3615; her district office's address is 3120 Federal Bldg., 100 State street, Rochester NY 14614-1309; phone: 718-232-4850.
Currently, there are thousands of Holocaust survivors living in the U.S. who are being denied German restitution for their pain and suffering during the Holocaust. The rules and regulations exclude many of the applicants for a number of specious and unreasonable reasons, i.e. earning more than $19,000 a year, having spent less than 18 months in a ghetto, or even being imprisoned in a ghetto without a wall around it. Most preposterous are instances of survivors being denied for not possessing written archival proof of persecution issued by the Nazis or by the Soviets before the end of the war.
The rules are being enforced by the New York-based Jewish organization, the Claims Conference, which serves as a conduit and clearing house for all applications. The Claims Conference permits no appeals of its decisions and a rejected applicant has no resource whatsoever since U.S. law at this time precludes lawsuits against sovereign governments like Germany.
This situation affects elderly survivors who have come to the U.S. during the last 50 years, as well as thousands of survivors from the former USSR who have arrived here during the last decade and who have experienced a disproportionate refusal rate by the Claims Conference.
HR 1531 would amend U.S. law to allow American citizens who were not citizens during World War II to sue Germany for compensation in U.S. courts. The lawsuit could only be initiated if all other avenues have been exhausted. The law would expire after 24 months giving eligible applicants enough time to initiate a lawsuit.
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