Are you getting the Holocaust compensation you deserve?
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Are you getting the Holocaust compensation you deserve?

Deborah Cicurel speaks to lawyer Brian Kramer about helping survivors and their families claim benefits from Germany and Poland

Deborah is a freelance journalist

Brian Kramer helps survivors and their families claim benefits, including pensions, retroactive payments and property reclamation
Brian Kramer helps survivors and their families claim benefits, including pensions, retroactive payments and property reclamation

If you, your late spouse or parents are survivors of Nazi atrocities, you could be entitled to compensation, even if you or they received some form of compensation in the past.

Brian Kramer, P.A., based in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of the leading law firms in the country dedicated to obtaining reparations for Holocaust survivors and their families, whether they are now making claims for the first time, have been previously denied or have already obtained some compensation.

“I have a passion for justice, and while true justice is unattainable given what survivors and their families endured, every pension obtained, or property restituted is just one way to ensure that subsequent generations do not forget the injustices of the past”, says lawyer Brian Kramer. This is not solely a financial issue it is largely one of morality.

“I help Holocaust survivors and their heirs to obtain pensions, retroactive lump sum payments and the restitution/compensation of stolen property. Kramer reports many survivors were never clear if they were eligible and therefore haven’t pursued all claims, or because new laws have been passed which entitle many people to new or additional benefits.

“The key thing is that I help heirs too, who often don’t know there’s a potential entitlement for them, and so it’s really about getting the word out and telling them there is potentially money out there,” Kramer says.

“Many survivors and heirs think ‘oh yes, my mother or my grandmother got money from Germany’, but even if they got something, it doesn’t preclude them from receiving a lump sum, because the survivors often didn’t receive their full entitlement.”

Kramer says many claimants might be nervous to try to claim more from the German government, but the reality is that he has helped hundreds of survivors receive additional money.

“Many survivors (even those now deceased), who worked in one or more ghettos during the war are are entitled to specific benefits from Germany. This is particularly relevant to British Jewry and, among those of Hungarian, Romanian, Czech and Slovak descent, because the laws expanding eligibility to such ghettos was only recently expanded.”

This is because the “acceptable” list of ghettos has been expanded to include survivors (or their heirs), who were interned in ghettos across occupied and annexed German territories, including Shanghai and Transnistria, even for a short time.

He adds: “I often encounter children of survivors, who were unaware that their parents worked in a ghetto” or sometimes the survivors themselves not have realized that where they were during the war is now classified or recognized as a Ghetto for restitution purposes.

Not all ghettos looked like Warsaw or Lodz – “thousands more across Europe were without the stereotypical walls.”

The bottom line, says Kramer, is that all European Holocaust survivors born before 1935 (or their heirs) should call and enquire about potential German benefits and all Polish-born survivors (regardless of age) should call and enquire about
both Polish and German entitlements.

In short, if your parent was a Holocaust survivor, who died in the past 10 to 15 years, you should call Kramer to enquire about potential benefits.

In order to make a claim, you might think a victim would have had to be in a concentration camp, but Kramer says that is not true.

Also, recently amended Polish laws enable many survivors who were born in pre war Poland or even in Siberia to collect a quarterly pension.

Kramer feels strongly that if you are entitled to anything, even a nominal amount, you should take it.

For example, he says, the new Polish pension “is not a lot of money, but if it is something that you are entitled to, you should take it.” Kramer says, “it’s your right. And, if you don’t want it, give it to tzedakah.”

He notes, since not all benefits are retroactive, as each month passes money which belongs to Holocaust survivors is being lost.

It is also worth adding that despite good intentions, many people claiming to help survivors apply for benefits lack the experience and knowledge to get the job done properly.

For example, with respect to Polish pensions an improperly completed application could be denied or never even receive a response.

Kramer noted that he had many clients advised to contact him (by word of mouth), to appeal a prior denial or to find out why they are not receiving a response.

Kramer has successfully appealed many cases using information, archives and resources that may be unknown to others.

“Having been to Poland multiple times and spoken to the clerks and ministers who process these claims, his office is very conscious of how to best prepare an application.”

Finally, Kramer urges anyone who thinks they are the heir to property stolen or confiscated by the Nazis or Communist regimes in Poland to contact him ASAP.

There are real deadlines approaching, which must be considered, particularly people with potential claims to properties in Warsaw.

Kramer urges anyone who may be entitled to compensation to call him and find out.

“I’ll do a free case evaluation and give them my opinion on whether I believe there’s anything additional for them to pursue.

“I don’t charge for that. I do the research and spend my time so there’s no investment on their part.”

To find out more, email Brian@BMKramerLaw.com, phone 0208 596 4510 or 001 561 200 3442, or visit holocaustreparations.com