Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland Wikipedia

The German government will pay out 772 million euros ($1 billion) for the care of aging Holocaust survivors following talks between Germany’s Finance Ministry and the Jewish Claims Conference, or JCC, a Jewish fund designed to help victims of Nazism.

The new compensation, which will be shelled out in stages between 2014 and 2017, will benefit almost 56,000 people around the world -- about one-third of them currently resident in Israel -- Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper reports.

The JCC stated that, under the scheme, the German government will provide 142 million euros in 2014, 205 million euros in 2015, 210 million euros in 2016 and 215 million euros in 2017.

In addition, the Germans also agreed to expand the definition of which Holocaust survivors are entitled to compensation by including Jews who lived in “open ghettoes” during the Second World War, instead of just the ones who were confined to “closed ghettoes.”

“There are ... thousands of survivors who were in ghettos that were not closed, such as in Czernowitz, Romania and many places in Bulgaria, among other Nazi-allied countries,” JCC explained.

“These Jews lived under conditions similar to closed ghettos: under curfew, deprived of their jobs, subject to persecution measures, forced to wear the yellow star, receiving reduced food rations and living in constant fear of deportation.”

JCC estimated that the widened definition of eligibility will result in up to 3,000 Holocaust survivors receiving up to 11 million euros from the German government.

“We are seeing Germany’s continued commitment to fulfill its historic obligation to Nazi victims,” said former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Stuart Eizenstat, the JCC’s special negotiator. “This ensures that Holocaust survivors, now in their final years, can be confident that we are endeavoring to help them live in dignity, after their early life was filled with indescribable tragedy and trauma. This is all the more impressive since it comes at a time of budget austerity in Germany.”

Since 1952, when then West Germany admitted that the Nazi regime had murdered some 6 million Jews, the Germans have paid out some $89 billion in reparation payments (mostly to Jewish victims), the New York Times reported last November.