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New York court to set number of Holocaust fund beneficiaries

Judge Edward Korman has approved the compensation plan Keystone

Two years after Swiss banks agreed a deal to compensate Holocaust survivors and their descendants for lost bank accounts, a New York court will on Monday decide how many people will benefit from the SFr2.25 billion collected.

Under a plan worked out by the fund’s special administrator Judah Gribetz, just under SFr1.5 billion will go to people who can prove that they or their families deposited money in Swiss banks to keep it out of the hands of the Nazis, but were then prevented from withdrawing. An estimated 80,000 depositors and their descendants are expected to be concerned.

The remainder of the funds collected will be allocated to wartime refugees who were refused entry to Switzerland or expelled from the country, those who worked as forced labourers for Swiss companies in Nazi-occupied Europe, and those whose valuables were stolen by the Nazis and sent to Switzerland.

Gribetz, the former president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, has estimated that each refugee will receive around SFr4,500, and each forced labourer SFr1,700. In a letter published on the Internet, addressed to claimants, Gribetz has said that there is simply not enough money to compensate all the descendants of Holocaust victims.

It is going to be more difficult to compensate victims of Nazi looting, Gribetz has said, since the process of validating claims would be too long and complex. Instead, he has proposed creating a fund to pay for food, housing and medical care.

Brooklyn judge Edward Korman, who is chairing Monday’s court session, has reportedly received hundreds of letters from Holocaust survivors and their descendants. Some have welcomed the compensation, however limited, as recognition of their suffering.

But others have been highly critical of the scheme, saying it comes too late and is too limited, and that failing to identify the victims of looting by name is unacceptable.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR