Towards the end of last week, retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the first woman to ever lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently the chairwoman of the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, continued her calls for Germany to do more for Holocaust survivors.
With the German government meeting the Claims Conference for the latest annual agreement over how much to provide Holocaust survivors, Ros-Lehtinen said that nation needed to do more.
“Last fall, both the House and the Senate unanimously agreed that Germany must do more to ensure that all Holocaust survivors can live their remaining years in the comfort and dignity that they deserve,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Thursday. “We urged our partners, Germany, to reaffirm its commitment to comprehensively address the medical, mental health, and long-term care needs of survivors by guaranteeing full funding to meet those needs.
“Now Germany has an opportunity to step up when it concludes its upcoming negotiations with the Claims Conference, and the Claims Conference leaders must recognize that Germany can do more for survivors,” she added. “Those leaders at the Claims Conference must not accept anything less than a comprehensive, permanent, and accountable commitment to fully fund survivors’ medically prescribed needs. Allowing once again for a modest increase when so much more is needed is not consistent with Germany’s past statements of responsibility, would defeat the purpose of the Claims Conference, and would tragically force tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors to continue to suffer when we all know the resources exist to provide the care and dignity that survivors worldwide deserve. I urge the Claims Conference and the German government to do the right thing and not settle for anything less than what is really and truly needed.”
In recent months, Ros-Lehtinen has focused on trying to help Holocaust survivors. Last year, Ros-Lehtinen and other members of the Florida delegation called on Germany provide more financial assistance to Holocaust survivors and they cheered when that nation announced it would lift caps on assistance to Holocaust survivors for home care.In April 2016, Ros-Lehtinen joined Florida Democrats U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch to bring out a measure urging Germany to “fulfill its moral responsibility to Holocaust survivors and urgently provide the financial resources necessary to ensure that Survivors live in dignity and comfort in their remaining years.” They were joined by Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, in the Senate. Back in 2014, Nelson and Collins held a meeting of the Senate Aging Committee focused on Holocaust survivors.
In October, Nelson and Ros-Lehtinen teamed up to introduce a bill helping Holocaust survivors and their heirs with insurance claims. Nelson and Ros-Lehtinen brought out the “Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2016” with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and California Democrats U.S. Reps. John Garemendi and Brad Sherman as co-sponsors. After World War Two, many Holocaust victims’ families and survivors filed insurance claims only to find them rejected due to a lack of paperwork including death certificates and policy papers which were often seized or destroyed by the Nazis and their allies. Nelson’s and Ros-Lehtinen’s bill would make insurance companies reveal Holocaust-era policyholders and permit “beneficiaries of Holocaust insurance policies and their heirs to bring suits in U.S. courts to recover any proceeds under the policies to which they may be entitled.”