Holocaust Restitution Payments Definition

What are Holocaust restitution payments?

Holocaust restitution payments are primarily made by the German and Austrian governments to partially compensate victims of Nazi Germany and its allies. In addition to claims for persecution, restitutions are also made to compensate for the loss of homes, the destruction of businesses, and the liquidation of bank accounts. Since 1952, more than $70 billion has been paid to more than 800,000 Holocaust victims.

Key points to remember

  • Holocaust restitution payments are money given to people who were persecuted under Nazi Germany.
  • Since 1952, more than $70 billion has been paid to more than 800,000 Holocaust victims.
  • In the United States, Holocaust restitution payments are not federally taxable income.
  • Holocaust restitution payments also do not count as income when determining eligibility for federal benefits or services.

How Holocaust Restitution Payments Work

Holocaust restitution payments are not taxable as income at the federal level if the payment is received by someone who was persecuted by the Nazis because of race, religion, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation – or perceived by the heirs or the estate of such a person. This includes repairing property losses resulting from Nazi persecution.

In addition, under 1994 federal legislation, Holocaust compensation and restitution payments made to victims of Nazi persecution are excluded from calculations to determine eligibility for federally funded benefits or services. Including Medical help, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps (SNAP), and federally subsidized housing programs.

In the United States, national banks and state-chartered regional institutions have also implemented fee waivers for payments to Holocaust survivors. Participants include Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Dime Savings Bank, HSBC, Apple Bank, Independence Community Bank, Greenpoint Bank, Amalgamated, Brooklyn Federal and Astoria Federal Savings.

Compensation programs

A variety of programs were made available to survivors and heirs of the Holocaust, referred to as the period of the 1930s and 1940s when Germany and the allied nations embarked on a highly organized program to use the machinery of government to murder and systematically enslave millions of people. Jews and others considered undesirable by the Nazi regime.

According to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), these programs include a hardship fund, an Article 2 fund, a surviving children’s fund, an orphans’ fund, and a for the heirs. There are also dedicated programs for survivors from specific countries, including Austria, Algeria, and the Czech Republic, as well as victims currently living in the United States.

Not all of these programs are open to new applications yet, and depending on the country, timelines and eligibility requirements vary.

The compensation table continues to evolve. In 2018, the Claims Conference announced the availability of a separate fund for the material compensation of Holocaust survivors and their heirs in Romania.In 2019, Germany also agreed to extend payments to spouses of Holocaust survivors, even after the survivor’s death.

Special Considerations

The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) was created following negotiations between Jewish organizations, the State of Israel, American and European insurers, and Insurance regulators to process compensation claims. Between 1998 and when it ceased operations in 2007, ICHEIC processed over $300 million in claims for over 48,000 Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

Under the multi-party agreements that established the ICHEIC, participating insurers were to be immune from lawsuits regarding claims in exchange for a standard of proof far below that which would be required in court proceedings. Nonetheless, in subsequent years, plaintiffs claiming to be entitled to payments attempted to sue and lobby the US Congress to strike down the insurer’s immunity.

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