Germany to pay Holocaust victims new compensation

A visitor walks through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany
Image caption Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was opened in 2005

Germany has agreed to pay an extra 800 million euros (£685 million) to help care for Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

It is thought about 56,000 people worldwide will benefit, one third of them in Israel.

The aim is to help ensure elderly Holocaust survivors can live their final years in dignity.

Germany has also agreed to widen the scope of those eligible, to include people who lived in open ghettos.

The Jewish Claims Conference, which represents Jews caught up in the Holocaust and their descendents, welcomed the announcement.

"We are seeing Germany's continued commitment to fulfil its historic obligation to Nazi victims," said Stuart Eizenstat, the Claims Conference's special negotiator, in a statement on the organisation's website.

He said the main beneficiaries would be people whose "early life was filled with indescribable tragedy and trauma".

Image caption Stuart Eizenstat, of the Jewish Claims Conference, called the announcement "impressive"

A German finance ministry spokesman confirmed the details of the compensation.

Mr Eizenstat, who is a former US ambassador to the European Union, added that the move was "all the more impressive since it comes at a time of budget austerity in Germany".

The open ghettos referred to were those without walls but where residents "lived in constant fear of deportation by the Nazis", according to the Claims Conference.

The former West German government acknowledged the murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and began, in 1952, to pay compensation to Israel.

Last year, the German finance ministry said it would make one-off payments worth 2,556 euros (£2188) each to Jewish victims of the Holocaust who had still not received any compensation.

Many of them live in the former Soviet Union.

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