In recognition of their suffering during World War II, Germany has agreed to compensate 25,000 Algerian Jews.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Jews who lived in Algeria, then a French colony, between July 1940 and November 1942, suffered under the control of the Nazi-affiliated Vichy regime. At long last, these Jews will be eligible for a one-time payment of €2,556.46 ($3,183), announced the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany on Monday. The Claims Conference is an international Jewish group that distributes Holocaust compensation funds on behalf of the German government.
Approximately 130,000 Jews lived in Algeria at the time.
“This is a long overdue recognition for a large group of Jews in Algeria who suffered anti-Jewish measures by Nazi allies like the Vichy Regime” said Greg Schneider, the Conference’s executive vice president. When negotiations with the German government began in August 2017, Schneider explained, “It was obviously not like the camps in Poland, but it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t persecution — and on that basis we believe that people are entitled to compensation.”
Vichy France introduced a series of anti-Semitic laws in 1940 which stripped Jews of their French citizenship, barred Jewish children from public schools, and prevented Jewish doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and other professionals from working in their trades. Many Jewish businesses and properties were taken away from their owners and transferred to non-Jews. And according to historian Jean Laloum, a certain number of Jews were sent to harsh labor camps in southern Algeria “because they were Jewish,” unlike most other prisoners, who were imprisoned due to their anti-regime activities or political beliefs.
Such little compensation is purely symbolic, of course, “but the recognition is important and we will continue to fight until every survivor has been recognized,” said Ruediger Mahlo, the Claims Conference’s representative in Germany, in a statement.
According to figures provided by the non-profit Claims Conference, which has worked on the issue of compensation with the German government since 1951, Berlin has paid out some $70 billion to survivors and their families over the last seven decades.
Most of the Algerian survivors live in France, and four centers will be set up in various cities to register claimants. Letters explaining the eligibility for compensation will be sent to all other known survivors, including some 3,900 in Israel.
The German government has now recognized the persecution of Jews in three former French colonies in North Africa that were controlled by their Vichy allies during World War II – Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.