After the Holocaust
Why Do American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, and Others Support European Insurance Companies And Fight Against Holocaust Survivors?
|David Schaecter||April 28th 2011|
Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA
Did you know that Holocaust survivors – U.S. citizens, many of whom are veterans and Korean War veterans -- do not have the right to go to an American court and sue the insurance companies that refuse to pay family life insurance policies?
After World War II, companies like Allianz, Generali, AXA, Munich Re, Swiss Life, Swiss Re, Zurich and others, refused to honor policies purchased in good faith by Holocaust victims. They demanded original documents and death certificates, resulting in over $20 billion in unpaid debts today. Many Holocaust survivors know their families had insurance, but the companies’ outrageous behavior for the past 65 years has allowed them to deny us our moral and financial legacies.
The insurance companies are not alone in dishonoring our families. Most people would be shocked to hear that certain Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League, the Claims Conference, B’nai B’rith International, the World Jewish Congress, and the American Gathering, are actively lobbying to support these companies to deny us our rights. We survivors were certainly appalled to learn about their betrayal.
We are outraged by any Jewish groups arrogantly interfering with our rights, especially those who failed to help us in our extreme time of need. We cannot help but wonder whether the general membership of these organizations held a vote to authorize their leadership to lobby members of Congress to support the insurers against Shoah survivors.
Are you aware that today, half of the Holocaust survivors in this country live near or below the poverty level, and tens of thousands died in misery, many before their time, without adequate health care, dental care, nutrition, shelter, eyeglasses, medicines, and home care? Meanwhile, AJC and the other non-survivor groups have been protecting the global insurers hoarding billions they owe survivors.
Even though the post-war German government promised to care for all Holocaust survivors, the programs are not adequate to provide for our destitute and aging brothers and sisters. \Yet, groups like the Claims Conference, AJC, the Jewish Federations, and others never demanded that the German government, and the insurance companies, banks and other profiteers, provide survivors with the necessary resources for a dignified old age. To the contrary, the establishment denied or minimized the shameful conditions that so many survivors were forced to endure despite while the wealthiest companies in the world laughed at us. Most “leaders” held their tongues and allowed the Claims Conference to maneuver heirs out of their properties, hoard assets, and engage in scandal after scandal while refusing basic transparency and diverting hundreds of millions of scarce dollars for insider projects that did nothing to help survivors in need.
One of the companies the AJC is protecting is the German behemoth Allianz, which insured the death camps while selling policies to European Jews and turning over customer files to the Nazis. In 1933, Allianz chairman Kurt Schmitt was an early Nazi party member and became Hitler’s Minister of Economics.
Although Allianz has refused to honor $2 billion worth of unpaid Jewish policies, it was willing to pay $300 million of naming rights to the NY Jets/Giants Meadowlands stadium. Thanks to righteous citizens’ outcry against this shameful act, the deal was canceled. Unlike the good people of New York and New Jersey, the AJC is perfectly happy to take money from Allianz – survivors’ money – to pay for trips by “young American professionals” to Germany.
We survivors ask: Is the public aware the Nazis used looted assets forcefully taken from our people to finance the war effort, and transport us to the hells of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Now our money is being used to deny us equal rights here in the United States in the 21st Century.
These companies will not pay their debts to survivors, but spend freely on Washington lobbyists, sports events, National Public Radio, and Sunday talk shows. It is time for them to be known for what they really are – companies that profited from the Holocaust by collaborating with the Nazis and failing to pay their customers.
Previous bi-partisan efforts in Congress to address the problem have been defeated by the lobbying muscle of the insurance industry, aided by the offending Jewish groups, and the U.S. government itself. Holocaust survivors are devastated by the fact that the government of this blessed land, our sacred United States, is actively fighting against us and protecting the foreign insurance companies.
The State Department and the Justice Department urged the courts to support the Italian insurance giant Assicurazioni Generali, with the misrepresentation that previous U.S. government agreements promised insurers like Generali and Allianz immunity from litigation.
Unfortunately, the courts accepted the government’s briefs at face value, and ruled in Generali’s favor.
Stuart Eizenstat, representing the State Department before Congress even though he is also a Claims Conference official, also made the false argument that legislation to allow survivors to sue the insurers would break previous U.S. commitments. It is just terrible that an official of an organization committed to opposing survivors’ individual rights can simultaneously represent our government before Congress. Is it any surprise he is saying what the insurance companies want?
Recently, documents we received under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed, in the Justice Department’s own words, that it was never true that the U.S. agreed to immunity for the insurers. When these documents were read into the Congressional record last fall, the Justice Department had the audacity to demand them back. This was outrageous – trying to cover up the truth about how our own government is conniving to make Holocaust survivors second class citizens. There is no way survivors will tolerate any more cover-ups, nor will we be silenced. Those days are over.
In the 111th Congress, there were 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who co-sponsored legislation to restore our rights. They were: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Shelley Berkley, Gus Bilirakis, Marsha Blackburn, Howard Coble, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Ted Deutch, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Eliot Engel, Elton Gallegly, John Garamendi, John Hall, Phil Hare, Alcee Hastings, Steve Israel, Mark Steven Kirk, Ron Klein, Carolyn Maloney, Thaddeus McCotter, Kendrick Meek, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Frank Pallone, Mike Pence, Ted Poe, Dana Rohrbacher, Adam Schiff, Aaron Schock, Allyson Schwartz, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Louise Slaughter, Dina Titus, Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Anthony Wiener, and Joe Wilson.
Unfortunately, the millions of lobbying dollars spent by the insurers and the non-survivor NGOs derailed the bill in the last Congress.
So far in the current session of Congress, there are bills in the Senate (S.466) and House (HR 890) to remedy the problem and give survivors our rights back. The sponsors are Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Shelley Berkley, Steve Cohen, Ted Deutch, John Garamendi, Alcee Hastings, Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney, Aaron Schock, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chris Van Hollen, Allen West, and Fredericka Wilson.
Is your Representative or Senator on this list? Do you know how he or she feels about equal rights for Holocaust survivors? How do you feel?
You deserve the full story, which can be found at the website of the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA: www.hsf-usa.org. Here you can find the relevant legislation, news articles, government papers, AJC/ADL/Claims Conference lobbying materials, and other documentation.
We are not asking for charity or help from the United States government, but only for what is rightfully ours. We are American citizens, who worked hard, managed to raise our families, and never asked for government help or charity. Yet, Holocaust survivors are less free, and less equal, than every other American citizen.
As we approach the Days of Remembrance, we ask all who support righteousness, to demand answers and demand what is morally and historically commanded. When you attend your local Yom Hashoah ceremony, ask your community leaders whether they are supporting the insurers’ cover up and theft of our families’ legacies, or whether they are demanding justice for Holocaust survivors.
David Schaecter is president of Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, and can be found at www.hsf-usa.org.