While compensation from Germany's Remembrance,
Responsibility and Future fund to former slave laborers
during the Holocaust is being held up due to last minute
complications, a scandal has arisen regarding fees charged
for help in filling out the applications.
Mazkar, the journal of the Center of Organizations
for Holocaust Survivors, recently published an article
written by its spokesman, Uri Yaakov. Yaakov claims that the
Yaffa Golan company charged survivors exorbitant rates for
filling out simple applications.
The Yaffa Golan company has been operating for many years as
a commercial office helping Holocaust survivors secure
various types of benefits: generally for a fee. The Yaffa
Golan company also revealed the fact that certain lawyers
literally stole from Holocaust survivors by falsely
promising to secure compensation for them. Uri Yaakov says
that this time, Yaffa Golan invited former slave laborers to
avail themselves of its services even before final agreement
on the amount of compensation was made known. At that time,
Yaffa Golan said that it would take a 10 percent commission
on the amount received by each survivor.
Many Holocaust survivors agreed to pay the fee to the
company, because in previous instances, they had found it
difficult to handle claims for compensation on their own.
It later became obvious that there was no need for outside
help, since the questionnaire is short and simple and the
survivors can fill it out themselves without any difficulty.
There are 102,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel today who
receive monthly indemnities. Approximately 35,000 of them
receive compensation from the Office for the Rehabilitation
of Handicapped Nazi Victims in the Finance Ministry,
handling monies received from Germany. About 27,000 receive
funds through the Claims Committee from a special fund
established five years ago.
All of these people received brief questionnaires in the
mail. Nearly all are eligible for automatic compensation
from the new fund. Public announcements were posted
informing former slave laborers who were not included in
former arrangements that they may secure the necessary forms
at their local post office. The Center of the Organizations
of Holocaust Survivors and the Claims Committee established
joint, non-fee charging centers to help survivors fill out
the forms. The Organizations Center claims that when the
Yaffa Golan Company learned of the public announcements, it
sent letters to all the 102,000 recipients of compensation,
demanding that they forward them their applications. Yaffa
Golan's aim, of course, was to make money.
Mr. Noach Flug, member of a number of Holocaust survivor
groups, wrote the Yaffa Golan company a letter in which he
noted that the letter it sent to the survivors lacks vital
information and is liable to be misleading.
Questions that Mazkar directed to the Yaffa Golan
company were answered by its communications advisor, Shlomo
Abramowitz. However Mazkar claims that some of the
questions remained unanswered.
The question remains concerning obligations signed by some
of the former slave laborers before they learned that the
process was so simple. Some have already told Yaffa Golan
company that they will not agree to pay the promised
commission. Uri Yaakov claims that Yaffa Golan had counted
on NIS ten million in income at the expense of sick and
Mazkar says that Yaffa Golan still has not responded
to survivors' requests to cancel their agreements.