newsHolocaust & Holocaust Survivors

Claims Conference releases ‘unprecedented’ report on Shoah survivors

Almost half of the 245,000 live in Israel. There are 48,200 Holocaust survivors in Western Europe, including 21,900 in France and 14,200 in Germany.

Holocaust survivor Naim Shabo and his wife, Chana, in Jerusalem on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 21, 2020. Photo by Eliana Rudee.
Holocaust survivor Naim Shabo and his wife, Chana, in Jerusalem on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 21, 2020. Photo by Eliana Rudee.

There are about 245,000 Holocaust survivors alive, according to a new Claims Conference report. They are dispersed in more than 90 countries with 49% residing in Israel.

The report, published ahead of the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 and described by the organization—full name: the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany—as an “unprecedented demographic report,” breaks down their locations as well as their countries of origin, needs, demographic data, and more.

“The largest number of survivors—119,300, representing nearly half (49%) of all survivors worldwide—reside in Israel. This figure is less than the 147,199 reported by the State of Israel’s Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority on [Israel’s] Holocaust Remembrance Day [last April], which included both Holocaust survivors as well as those whom Israel recognizes as victims of antisemitic persecutions during the war,” the report notes.

Some 44,200 survivors live in North America (including 38,400 in the United States) and about 2,500 in Australia.

In Western Europe, the document reports, there are 48,200 Holocaust survivors, including 21,900 in France and 14,200 in Germany. In Central European countries, there are some 6,100. In the former Soviet Union, there are 28,900 Holocaust survivors—18,200 in Russia, 7,400 in Ukraine and 2,100 in Belarus.

The median age of survivors is 86

According to the report, the median age of Holocaust survivors today is 86, ranging from 77 to more than 100 years old (the oldest was born in 1910). Ninety-five percent were children during the Holocaust. Women make up the majority of Holocaust survivors (61%).

As a result of the Claims Conference’s negotiations with the German government over the years, nearly 40% of survivors receive monthly payments while the rest are eligible for one-time or annual payments.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference has secured more than $90 billion in indemnification for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis, including through one-time payments and, for those most in need, life-sustaining services such as home care, medicine, hot meals and friendly support networks, the Claims Conference said.

“The Claims Conference administers several compensation funds that provide direct payments to survivors globally and issues grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide that provide welfare services and help address the needs of the aging, vulnerable population of survivors,” it added.

About 20% of Holocaust survivors are over 90 years old and require social assistance. Some 40% of survivors are receiving, or received in the past year, social welfare services provided by more than 300 agencies that receive grants administered by the Claims Conference.

Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider said: “The numbers in this report are interesting, but it is also important to look past the numbers to see the individuals they represent. These are Jews who were born into a world that wanted to see them murdered. They endured the atrocities of the Holocaust in their youth and were forced to rebuild an entire life out of the ashes of the camps and ghettos that ended their families and communities. The data forces us to accept the reality that Holocaust survivors won’t be with us forever, indeed, we have already lost most survivors.”

The president of the organization, Gideon Taylor, added: “The data we have amassed not only tells us how many and where survivors are, it clearly indicates that most survivors are at a period of life where their need for care and services is growing. Now is the time to double down on our attention on this waning population. Now is when they need us the most.”

Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, said: “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Claims Conference for compiling this crucial report about Holocaust survivors today. This demographic study is a warning to me, highlighting the current demographic state of Holocaust survivors globally. It underlines the urgency of our work to continue gathering and researching the testimonies and names of these remarkable individuals before the survivor generation disappears. May their presence continue to strengthen our resolve to shape a better future.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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