After World War II, companies like Allianz, Generali, AXA, Munich Re, Swiss Life, Swiss Re, Zurich and others, refused to honor policies purchased in good faith by Holocaust victims. They demanded original documents and death certificates, resulting in over $20 billion in unpaid debts today. Many Holocaust survivors know their families had insurance, but the companies’ outrageous behavior for the past 65 years has allowed them to deny us our moral and financial legacies.
The insurance companies are not alone in dishonoring our families. Most people would be shocked to hear that certain Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League, the Claims Conference, B’nai B’rith International, the World Jewish Congress, and the American Gathering, are actively lobbying to support these companies to deny us our rights. We survivors were certainly appalled to learn about their betrayal.
Even though the post-war German government promised to care for all Holocaust survivors, the programs are not adequate to provide for our destitute and aging brothers and sisters. \Yet, groups like the Claims Conference, AJC, the Jewish Federations, and others never demanded that the German government, and the insurance companies, banks and other profiteers, provide survivors with the necessary resources for a dignified old age.
Although Allianz has refused to honor $2 billion worth of unpaid Jewish policies, it was willing to pay $300 million of naming rights to the NY Jets/Giants Meadowlands stadium. Thanks to righteous citizens’ outcry against this shameful act, the deal was canceled. Unlike the good people of New York and New Jersey, the AJC is perfectly happy to take money from Allianz – survivors’ money – to pay for trips by “young American professionals” to Germany.
We survivors ask: Is the public aware the Nazis used looted assets forcefully taken from our people to finance the war effort, and transport us to the hells of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Now our money is being used to deny us equal rights here in the United States in the 21st Century.
These companies will not pay their debts to survivors, but spend freely on Washington lobbyists, sports events, National Public Radio, and Sunday talk shows. It is time for them to be known for what they really are – companies that profited from the Holocaust by collaborating with the Nazis and failing to pay their customers.
In the 111th Congress, there were 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who co-sponsored legislation to restore our rights. They were: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Shelley Berkley, Gus Bilirakis, Marsha Blackburn, Howard Coble, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Ted Deutch, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Eliot Engel, Elton Gallegly, John Garamendi, John Hall, Phil Hare, Alcee Hastings, Steve Israel, Mark Steven Kirk, Ron Klein, Carolyn Maloney, Thaddeus McCotter, Kendrick Meek, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Frank Pallone, Mike Pence, Ted Poe, Dana Rohrbacher, Adam Schiff, Aaron Schock, Allyson Schwartz, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Louise Slaughter, Dina Titus, Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Anthony Wiener, and Joe Wilson.
Unfortunately, the millions of lobbying dollars spent by the insurers and the non-survivor NGOs derailed the bill in the last Congress.
You deserve the full story, which can be found at the website of the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA: www.hsf-usa.org. Here you can find the relevant legislation, news articles, government papers, AJC/ADL/Claims Conference lobbying materials, and other documentation.
We are not asking for charity or help from the United States government, but only for what is rightfully ours. We are American citizens, who worked hard, managed to raise our families, and never asked for government help or charity. Yet, Holocaust survivors are less free, and less equal, than every other American citizen.
As we approach the Days of Remembrance, we ask all who support righteousness, to demand answers and demand what is morally and historically commanded. When you attend your local Yom Hashoah ceremony, ask your community leaders whether they are supporting the insurers’ cover up and theft of our families’ legacies, or whether they are demanding justice for Holocaust survivors.
David Schaecter is president of Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, and can be found atwww.hsf-usa.org.