Under the terms of the West German Indemnification Laws (BEG), direct compensation was limited to former German citizens, refugees and stateless persons. Holocaust survivors living in Soviet bloc countries received no indemnification. During the period of détente between the United States and the Soviet Union, many survivors immigrated to the West, thus qualifying as refugees. They were still excluded, however, from German compensation programs, which had a filing deadline of 1969.
Beginning in 1975, the Claims Conference negotiated for proper compensation to survivors who were refugees from Soviet bloc countries, including trying to obtain an extension of the BEG filing deadline, but to no avail. Finally, in 1980, the Federal Republic of Germany created a “Hardship Fund” of DM 400 million. It was to be paid to survivors as one-time payments of DM 5,000 (now €2,556) each, with five percent of the amount set aside for institutional grants.
The German government created this fund only under the condition that the Claims Conference, rather than Germany, administer applications and payments.
Based on the original size of the fund, it was estimated that 80,000 Holocaust survivors would benefit from it—principally, people who had escaped from the Soviet bloc with virtually no resources.
With the collapse of Communism, far more Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet bloc countries emigrated to the West, increasing the need for Hardship Fund compensation. In subsequent negotiations, the Claims Conference secured an additional DM 135 million for the funding of the Hardship Fund through the end of 1992, as well as DM 10 million for institutional grants in Israel. Thereafter, provision for funding of the Hardship Fund was made part of the 1992 agreement covering both the Hardship and Article 2 funds and has continued to date.
The Hardship Fund continues to provide financial relief for many aging Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.
Please Note: The amount of Hardship Fund compensation is set by the German government and is a fixed Euro amount. Currency exchange fluctuations between the Euro and other currencies will affect the amount of compensation payments received when the Euro is converted into local currencies.