2014, Berlin Claims Conference News

August 24 thru Wednesday August 27, 2014

From the Executive Committee of the WFJHS&D:

  • President— Stefanie Seltzer
  • Executive Vice President—Steve Adler
  • Vice Presidents— Chana Arnon, Anita Ekstein, Jacques Fein, Melissa Hacker, Max Arpels Lezer, René Lichtman, Daisy Miller, Henri Obstfeld, Melita Svob
  • Secretary—Charles Silow
  • Treasurer— Isaac Kot

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We are very saddened by the loss of our dear friend, our sister, Renata Zajdman. Renata was a truly a remarkable woman and a devoted friend to many of us. Her courage carried her throughout her life and particularly so the last decade of her life when she valiantly, with the help of her son Michael and daughter Sharon, fought cancer. Renata courageously carried on until the very last and missed no opportunity to speak movingly of her past and to convey the message that we must not hate; we must move forward and teach the younger generation about man’s humanity to man.

We’ll have more comments about Renata in our next WFNU. If you have memories of Renata, or any other members of our extended child survivor family, please let us know. We need to recognize and remember each other.

Stefanie Seltzer

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OSE-USA President, Norbert Bikales, retires

Long time President of OSE-USA Alumni, Norbert Bikales, has officially retired.

Long -time Treasurer Jacques Fein, will now co-lead OSE-USA Alumni with 2G OSE person, Claudine Schweber.

Norbert, Happy Retirement, now what?

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News from the Claims Conference
White House to Create Liaison for Survivor Needs

Dec 11, 2013

Dear Stefanie,

I am pleased to inform you that after our intensive discussions over the past several months with the White House, Vice President Joseph Biden has announced three major policy initiatives that will focus on the needs of survivors in the United States. Of course, these are tremendously important steps for the United States government to take in addressing the needs of U.S. survivors:

1. Government Liaison for Holocaust Survivor Needs

The Obama administration will appoint a senior level government domestic policy envoy to deal specifically with the needs and concerns of Holocaust victims in the U.S. Vice President Biden said that a position will be created within the Department of Health and Human Services to work with survivors and the organizations that assist them in the United States. The new liaison will help support initiatives to aid needy victims while encouraging the private sector to also focus on this area. “This will make the government more responsive to a Hungarian survivor in the Bronx who needs a wheelchair or the elderly woman with memories of Warsaw ghetto who needs a ride to the doctor,” said the Vice President.

2. AmeriCorps Work with Nazi Victims

The U.S. government will create a program within AmeriCorps to partner volunteers with local organizations that assist Nazi victims living in need. AmeriCorps and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members are going to work at national and local levels to help plan and execute these programs, recruit and manage volunteers, and help develop resources to meet the needs. We expect the volunteers will be placed primarily in the Claims Conference network of agencies providing services to Nazi victims in the United States.

3. Public-Private Partnership
The Obama Administration will propose, in the U.S. Federal budget, a fund for welfare services for Nazi victims resident in the United States. The government will promote public-private partnerships with foundations, nonprofit organizations and the private sector to “increase the resources available to support these survivors and their unmet needs,” said Mr. Biden.

All of these initiatives result from extensive consultation with us, as well as key service providers that we currently fund and several other Jewish organizations with which we work such as the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Services. In addition, the Vice President stressed the Obama Administration’s support for property restitution efforts in Eastern Europe and the work of the WJRO. “Some countries have found meaningful and expedient ways to resolve these issues, which can be complex and difficult. But others have not. We will continue to work very closely with you and with the World Jewish Restitution Organizations and through our diplomatic efforts to urge others in Central and Eastern Europe to step up.” Vice President Biden said. Indeed, the Vice President and his National Security team have been extremely helpful with the recent activities in eastern European countries such as Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

The Vice President made his remarks at a luncheon yesterday honoring the 100th anniversary of the JDC. The Claims Conference has been working extensively with the office of the Vice President for some time, bringing him and his staff detailed information about the plight of Nazi victims, the resources available to help them, and the needs that are not met and will continue to grow over the next number of years. We have done this in addition to our continued work with our friends in the U.S. Congress and at the State Department, whose support has been invaluable to our work and our ability to increase aid and payments to Nazi victims.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a JDC event earlier in the week. Both he and the Vice President, in moving and personal words, praised the work of Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, our Special Negotiator, on behalf of Holocaust survivors. JDC also presented a moving tribute to Saul Kagan, who pioneered our 62-year partnership with the organization in order to provide relief and aid to Nazi victims after the war, behind the Iron Curtain, and into the present day. We will send more about that in a future report.

The Claims Conference will of course continue to work with Vice President Biden and our supporters in Congress to provide the information that the new government liaison will need in order to effectively support and advocate for Holocaust victims. As the primary organization funding aid to survivors in the U.S. and in the world, we look forward to working closely with the new liaison.
We thank, as always, the U.S. government for its commitment and action on behalf of Nazi victims. Its support has been crucial to our work and therefore to the well-being and dignity of survivors. Read excerpts from Vice President Biden’s remarks

Best wishes,
Julius Berman

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