Today, the „International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims“ (ICHEIC) has announced in Washington the conclusion of an international process to compensate victims of the Holocaust or their heirs, whose insurance policies had been confiscated by Nazi Germany and whose policies had remained uncompensated by previous compensation proceedings.
Upon review of insurance contracts issued by companies of the former German Reich, 11,399 policies have been found eligible for compensation. Direct compensation and general humanitarian payments of 102.16 million US Dollars have been paid on these policies to 8,664 victims of the Holocaust or their heirs. A minimum of 3,000 US Dollars was paid on each policy, although the average compensation amount was close to 9,000 US Dollars. On a worldwide scale ICHEIC has distributed approximately 306 million US Dollars as individual compensation and general humanitarian payments.
The German insurance market participated in this worldwide compensation process based on a Trilateral Agreement between the German Insurance Association (GDV), the „International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims“ (ICHEIC) and the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”.
The compensation and claims-handling process in Germany was coordinated by the GDV and the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”. The claims were processed by all German insurance companies who either had conducted business prior to 1945 themselves or are successors of such entities. This procedure ensured that the mutually agreed claims processing and compensation criteria were applied by all German insurance companies. Thus a complete examination of all compensation claims for unpaid or confiscated and not yet otherwise compensated insurance policies of victims of the Holocaust by the entire German insurance market was guaranteed. The compensation payments were made based on very relaxed eligibility criteria in favour of the claimants. The compensation also included claims for policies that had been paid by the insurance companies, but where the insurance benefits had been confiscated on so-called blocked accounts by the Nazi regime.
“We assume that due to this compensation process all potential claims of Holocaust victims and their heirs with respect to potentially unregulated insurance policies have now been settled. The financial compensation cannot undo the suffering of the victims but we hope that we have been able to provide a small measure of justice,” said Dr. Frank von Fürstenwerth, Chief Executive Officer of the GDV.
The mutual agreement between ICHEIC, the GDV and the German Foundation regarding the compensation process for insurance policies was based on an Executive Agreement between the governments of Germany, the United States, Israel, various East European countries and Jewish compensation organizations established in July 2000. The overall negotiations regarding the compensation for forced and slave labour workers and unregulated claims with respect to bank accounts and insurance policies from the time of the Third Reich were initiated by former USPresident William J. Clinton and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and were successfully negotiated by former Undersecretary of Treasury Stuart Eizenstat and the former German Special Envoy Dr. Otto Count Lambsdorff.
After the signing of the international Executive Agreement, the German insurance industry contributed substantially to the compensation funds within the framework of the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” of 5.1 billion Euros (at that time 5.0 billion USD). Over 281 million Euros was forwarded from the German Foundation to ICHEIC after the Trilateral Agreement had been signed. These monies constituted the largest part of compensation funds that ICHEIC had received from all over the world. It was with these monies that eligible claims of former Jewish policyholders or their heirs were paid and other general humanitarian benefits could be provided to victims of the Holocaust.
In addition to the contributed compensation funds, the companies each spent considerable time and additional money in researching the claims and setting up their internal working procedures. “Regardless of the official ending of this compensation process, the German insurance industry is well aware of its responsibilities. In case future inquiries are presented to a specific company, the particular company will address such inquiries,” von Fürstenwerth added.