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Swiss Holocaust fund payments for Polish Nazi victims

Fifteen thousand Polish former concentration camp prisoners are to receive payments of $400 from the Swiss fund for Holocaust victims.

A delegation from the Polish-German "Reconciliation and Understanding" foundation attended a signing ceremony at the Polish embassy in Berne on Tuesday.

The decision to make the payment brings to 28,000 the number of Polish-based victims of the Nazis who have received money from the Swiss fund.

These include Jews, Sinti and Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and political prisoners. Around a further 40,000 political prisoners are expected to receive payments.

Since 1997 the Swiss Holocaust Fund has collected around SFr295 million in donations from the banking sector and industry, and in interest. It has paid out SFr284 million.

The fund itself does not make direct payments, but transfers money to partner organisations that work with victims. SFr 256 million from the fund has been transferred to the organisations, which in their turn have paid over SFr202 million to victims.

The majority of the money in the fund - around SFr195 million - has been used to make payments to Jewish Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe, the United States, and Israel.

The fund's mandate runs out at the end of this year, and it will be wound up thereafter. It is estimated that over 310,000 people in total will have benefited from the support it offers.

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