While we cannot undo any aspect of our companys history, we can learn from it and work to make sure the horrors of the Holocaust are never again repeated, Allianz spokeswoman Sabia Schwarzer said in a statement.
But she also insisted that Allianz of America, which includes Firemans Fund and PIMCO, has the right to advertise its insurance and investment services.
Schwarzer said the German insurer met its obligation to the vast majority of Holocaust survivors with unpaid policies through the International Commission on Holocaust Insurance Claims. It was supported by the U.S. and European governments, as well as major Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Congress. They now oppose Ros-Lehtinens legislation.
The international commissions work, completed in 2007, has been described as imperfect justice by some who participated in the effort. But to South Florida Holocaust survivors and others around the country, the commissions work amounts to a sham, which is why they are seeking the right to sue Allianz and others with the help of Congress.
Miami attorney Samuel Dubbin, who represents the South Florida survivors group, said the commission only obtained payouts of $250 million for about 14,000 claimants, or less than 3 percent of all outstanding Holocaust-era life insurance claims. The commission also issued 34,000 humanitarian payments of $1,000 each.
Experts such as Sidney Zabludoff, a retired U.S. government economist who later worked for a Jewish claims restitution group, estimated that Allianz, the Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali and other companies sold a total of 879,000 life insurance policies to Eastern European Jews that have a present value of about $20 billion.
Allianz, with annual operating profits of $8 billion, has struggled with its image in the United States because of its history of aiding the Nazis during World War II.
The Foundations Schaecter said the companys role in the Holocaust should not be forgotten nor should Allianz be so easily forgiven for its huge debt to survivors.
If we are given back our dignity and we are allowed to go to court and sue, it doesnt mean were going to win all these lawsuits, he said. But at least we will have the right to make the world hear us.
The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.
To read more, visit www.miamiherald.com.