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Law to compensate Nazi victims stalled

State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign Ministry Ján Figeľ urged the Slovak government last week to move forward on a reimbursement law for survivors of Nazi persecutions.
Slovakia is the only post-communist country that still does not have a law on reimbursing the victims of the Nazi regime, he said, adding that for over two years, the draft law on reparations to survivors of the Nazi regime in Slovakia has been shuttling between the Office of the Cabinet's Judicial Council Chairman and the Ministry of Justice.


The Slovak Jewish community is fed up with waiting for state action.
photo: TASR

State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign Ministry Ján Figeľ urged the Slovak government last week to move forward on a reimbursement law for survivors of Nazi persecutions.

Slovakia is the only post-communist country that still does not have a law on reimbursing the victims of the Nazi regime, he said, adding that for over two years, the draft law on reparations to survivors of the Nazi regime in Slovakia has been shuttling between the Office of the Cabinet's Judicial Council Chairman and the Ministry of Justice.

The Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia is highly critical of the fact that the preparation of the law has dragged on for so long, said Fero Alexander, executive chairman of the organization.

Under an international agreement, the three winning superpowers of World War II - the United States, Great Britain and France - have already given Slovakia $1.6 million for the reparations - the equivalent of 165 kilograms of gold.

The Slovak cabinet decided on May 26 last year to use three-quarters of the gold to pay amends to Slovak survivors, according to the SITA news agency. The remaining quarter is meant to be Slovakia's contribution to an international victim reparation fund.

But once the government received the cheque this summer, the plan to hand the money directly to the Jewish community changed, Alexander said. The government then decided it had to come up with another law on the subject, he said.

His group has been trying to get appointments with the newly-appointed Minister of Finance to talk about the issue, but so far it has been unsuccessful.

"The former government ping-ponged the law back and forth....We deeply hope that will not be the case with the current government," he said. "They (the survivors) are very disappointed. Now these people are very old. The youngest one is 55, and people are dying every day,'' he said.

There are between 1,500 and 2,000 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust still living in Slovakia. Their average age is 76, Alexander said.

The issue of reparations is not principally one of money, but one of acknowledging the survivors' suffering in Slovakia, said Baruch Myers, Rabbi of the Jewish community in Bratislava.

"This money is not going to make these people rich. But there is a real need for the tragedy of the Holocaust to be acknowledged in Slovakia," he said.

SITA contributed to this story

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