As Holocaust survivors, we were surprised that President Obama cited support for survivors as one of his administration’s top achievements with the Jewish community in a Rosh Hashanah conference call with U.S. rabbis. In fact, his administration has ignored Holocaust survivors’ efforts to secure comprehensive support from Germany for the care required by our brothers and sisters in need, and opposed our rights to recover insurance policies sold to our parents dishonored by global insurers after the Holocaust.
Holocaust survivors suffer from far more severe physical and mental health problems because of the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Survivors have never asked for help from the U.S. taxpayers. We believe it is modern Germany’s responsibility to provide for survivors’ needs “to their last breath,” as post-war Chancellor Adenauer promised. We have repeatedly asked the President and Vice President to urge Chancellor Merkel to fulfill this moral and historic responsibility for those survivors, but they have looked the other way.
Instead, the Administration devised a “program” of $2.8 million per year for “person-centered, trauma-informed supportive services for Holocaust survivors.” No one knows what this means, except the funds cannot be used for actual services for survivors’ needs.
Fortunately, this summer, the U.S. House and Senate, led by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, and Susan Collins, unanimously passed resolutions calling on the German government to provide for 100 percent of survivors’ medical, mental health, emergency, and long-term care needs — worldwide.
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We are asking President Obama to join with Congress and urge Chancellor Merkel to take the lead, quietly and decisively, to guarantee that all survivors will live in dignity. As Mr. Obama’s term in office winds down, so do the lives of tens of thousands of survivors who also have run out of time.
David Mermelstein, Miami, David Schaecter, Miami, Herbert Karliner, Miami Beach, and four others