Claims Conference Blames Dead Official for Botched $57M Holocaust Fraud Probe

Current Staff Plead Ignorance About 2001 Whistleblower Letter

getty images

By Paul Berger

Published May 16, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The Jewish organization that processes restitution claims for Holocaust survivors is blaming an official who has since died for its failure to act on a 2001 warning about a multi-million scam run by some of its own staff.

A spokeswoman for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany blamed the failure on Frankfurt-based Karl Brozik, its former director in Germany. It was he, said the spokeswoman, who led the investigation into detailed allegations about the scheme that the group received in an anonymous letter almost a decade before the fraud finally came to light.

The Claims Conference failed to pursue the early tipoff, disclosed by the Forward on May 14, even though a staffer’s preliminary investigation of the letter’s charges supported its allegations.

2001 letter that pointed to massive fraud at Claims Conference.
2001 letter that pointed to massive fraud at Claims Conference.

The Claims Conference spokeswoman, Hillary Kessler-Godin, said that Brozik, who died in 2004, failed to uncover the fraud, which eventually netted $57 million in funds meant for needy survivors. Semen Domnitser, a Claims Conference employee, was convicted on federal fraud charges on May 8 as the scheme’s ringleader.

“Dr. Brozik in Germany accepted [Domnitser’s] explanations for the cases cited in the anonymous letter,” Kessler-Godin said in a prepared statement.

Domnitser was the ringleader of an approximately 15-year scheme in which thousands of people improperly claimed to be Holocaust survivors to obtain payments from German funds administered by the Claims Conference. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced September 10.

Thirty others, including almost a dozen now-former Claims Conference employees, have pleaded guilty or been convicted in connection with the fraud.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.