(AP/Czarek Sokolowski)
Holocaust survivors

Holocaust survivors worldwide will see an increase of $114 million in support over each of the next two years and an increase of $55 million for Holocaust education over the next four years.

By Mike Wagenheim, JNS

Holocaust survivors worldwide will see an increase of $114 million in support over each of the next two years as a result of recently concluded negotiations between the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the German federal government.

“The number of Holocaust survivors is going down. But as survivors age, their needs grow—home care needs, social needs,” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, told JNS.

“That has been a key part of our discussion with the Germans—to communicate and to demonstrate that increasing need,” he added.

Taylor called the increase “significant,” especially in a difficult economic environment.”

The German Finance Ministry will now provide $972.5 million from 2025-26 for social welfare services for survivors. Additionally, there is an increase of $55 million for Holocaust education over the next four years, bringing that total to $177 million.

Direct compensation payments will lessen by $40 million in 2025 due to the decrease in the number of living survivors. One-time payments and monthly pensions are projected to total $500 million next year, according to Taylor.

Hanan Simhon, vice president at Selfhelp Community Services’ Holocaust Survivors Program, says his agency assists some 5,200 survivors, with all but 1,000 in the New York area, making it the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America.

Simhon told JNS that the increased funding will “really help empower us to take care of the unmet needs of survivors, specifically in the realm of home care, where we’re able to address the very important needs that they have at home so that they can remain in the community with dignity and independence.”

He said he is grateful for the monetary boost, and that it is enough to manage the moment.

But “tomorrow and the next week and the next month, more and more survivors who are aging into services come to us, sometimes for the first time, and those needs are currently unknown to the German government or to the Claims Conference,” Simhon told JNS.

‘Germany has a unique role to play’

Not everyone is happy with the funding levels, even with the increases factored in.

David Schaecter, president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, told JNS that he is “angry beyond words that Germany and the Claims Conference announced only minimal levels of additional support for indigent Holocaust survivors, forcing thousands of poor survivors to continue to suffer without the help they desperately need.”

He noted a “massive shortfall” in long-term care funding for survivors, and the new funds announced this week “will not make a dent.” He also criticized Germany and the Claims Conference for breaking promises of fuller support.

“I cannot fathom why Germany does not simply provide for 100% of the home care and other emergency needs of Holocaust survivors, who suffered so much and deserve our utmost support,” Schaecter said.

Taylor said the Claims Conference has already started planning for what will come when there are no survivors left—a reason why it has been negotiating for increased funding levels for Holocaust education, especially with rising antisemitism and disturbing surveys showing little youth knowledge about World War II and the Holocaust.

“There’s certainly an awareness on the part of the German government that Germany has a unique role to play in supporting and enhancing Holocaust education,” Taylor told JNS.

He called the increased funding this year “a statement that says that the responsibility of Germany is not just a responsibility that’s about survivors, but about education.”

“It is essential that survivors know their own legacy of survival and the history of their family, friends and lost communities will be carried forward by future generations,” he added in a statement about the agreement with the German government.