A group of Holocaust survivors who were denied wartime entry to Switzerland or mistreated after arrival are about to be compensated by Swiss banks.
The first payments from the $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) settlement are to be made to 95 survivors. Fifteen of them were denied entry to or expelled from Switzerland during the war, while 80 were mistreated in the country after being admitted.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany announced in New York on Monday that altogether, the group will receive $77,500. Those who were turned back will get $2,500 each, while the others will receive $500.
"The small sums of money that are being paid today will not compensate them in any meaningful way," said Gideon Taylor, vice president of the Conference. "What it will do is recognise - recognise their suffering, recognise what happened to them, recognise what injustice was."
"It's blood money," said Ruth Schloss, who was turned back from the Swiss border at the age of 14. Now 75, she feels that "It's not enough."
Daniel Lieberman, another survivor, said the Swiss police threatened to hand him over to the Gestapo if tried to enter the country again. Despite the money he is to receive, he has no sympathy for the Swiss.
"A Jew can forgive," said Lieberman, "but he can never forget."
The settlement was negotiated in 1998 between the banks and Jewish organisations, and was approved last year by US District Judge Edward Korman. Those who can apply for compensation include Jews who had money in dormant Swiss bank accounts, and slave and forced labourers.
A major share of the money, $800 million, is reserved for Jewish plaintiffs, while the rest will go to other Holocaust survivors. The earliest payments were made to former forced labourers in July, and compensation to the owners of dormant accounts began in October.
So far, the Claims Conference has processed nearly 4,400 Jewish applications for compensation. Victims of the Nazis have until the end of the year to make their claims to the Conference or the International Organisation for Migration.
swissinfo with agencies
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