Greek Jews to get German pensions?

THESSALONIKI – Sixty years after Thessaloniki’s ancient Jewish community was wiped out in Nazi crematoria, Germany is thinking of providing the few surviving members with honorary pensions, well-informed sources in Athens and Thessaloniki told Kathimerini. About 60 Greek Jews who survived the concentration camps are still alive. Tomorrow they will commemorate in Thessaloniki the 60th anniversary of the start of deportations of the city’s 55,000 Jews, only 1,200 of whom survived. In another development, Foreign Minister George Papandreou is expected to announce the establishment of a day of remembrance of the Holocaust, accepting a request from the Jewish community, when he attends a ceremony in Thessaloniki next Sunday where Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel is to speak. Germany appears to have responded favorably to a request to provide pensions to the Greek Jews who are still alive. «We are making progress and we hope the talks will bear fruit soon,» the president of the Central Jewish Council, Moses Constantinis, told Kathimerini. David Saltiel, president of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community confirmed that negotiations were being held for Holocaust survivors to receive pensions but would not elaborate on its progress. But one survivor said the pensions were too little too late. «They should have given us the pensions in the years right after our liberation, when we had great need of them and they would have been significant assistance. What can we do with them now? To be frank, I don’t want it now. But we’ll see. If they approve it for me, I may give it to some charity,» said Leon Benmayor. The 87-year-old survived the Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau death camps. Thessaloniki’s Jewish community has also filed suit against the German State for 3.5 billion drachmas (10 million euros), an amount paid in ransom for 2,000 of its members in 1942. The Germans, however, will not discuss this.

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