Help for Needy Holocaust Survivors In Doubt as Donor Conference Scrapped

Have 46 Nations Abandoned Vows of Terezin Declaration?

Promises Deferred: Dignitaries from 46 nations agreed to provide help for needy Holocaust survivors in a landmark 2009 conference in Prague. Now, a conference to actually gather the needed resources has been put off indefinitely.
courtesy of czech republic
Promises Deferred: Dignitaries from 46 nations agreed to provide help for needy Holocaust survivors in a landmark 2009 conference in Prague. Now, a conference to actually gather the needed resources has been put off indefinitely.

By Paul Berger

Published June 14, 2013, issue of June 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The 2009 declaration was affirmed at the conclusion of Prague’s Holocaust Era Assets Conference — the fifth in a series of meetings held since 1995 to discuss Holocaust issues. The Terezin Declaration was the first formal document to make the social welfare of Holocaust survivors a priority.

ESLI is funded primarily by the Czech government, which has, until this year, contributed about $400,000 annually. Additional assistance has come from the United States, which pledged $750,000 over ESLI’s first five years, and from Israel, which has committed $90,000. Douglas Davidson, the special envoy of the United States for Holocaust issues and an ESLI board member, declined to speak on the record.

ESLI has several advisory bodies and boards. They are populated with representatives of various governments and of Czech Jewish organizations as well as specialists from NGOs such as EVZ, a German Holocaust foundation, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

The Claims Conference estimates that there are about 500,000 Nazi victims alive today, worldwide, with criteria for defining who among them are needy varying from country to country. “Whether they are ‘needy’ is complicated because it’s largely based on geography,” said Amy Wexler, a Claims Conference spokeswoman. “Nazi victims in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union — over 80,000 — are the most needy.” Wexler added that in North America, a quarter of Nazi victims — about 34,000 people — are considered needy.

The declaration, in its opening line, emphasized the looming social welfare crisis this population faces. Noting the “advanced age” now afflicting Holocaust survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution, the document stressed the imperative “to respect their personal dignity and to deal with their social welfare needs, as an issue of utmost urgency.”

But the declaration was not legally binding. And ESLI itself was given few resources to implement its intentions. The institute’s defenders cite these limitations while pointing out progress that the institute has made in some areas, particularly in property restitution.

But ESLI has had significant struggles. It has gone through two directors in three years; a search for a third director is just getting under way. And its main sponsor, the Czech government, has reduced its annual allocation by 20% this year,.

Jiri Cistecky, a senior official at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the reduction was part of widespread government spending cuts.


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!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • 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.