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Nazi victims win German pensions

Germany has agreed after a year of tough negotiations to pay pensions to about 16,000 additional Holocaust victims all over the world.

The agreement between the New York-based Claims Conference and the German government to pay the survivors, mostly those who were once starving children in Nazi ghettos or forced to live in hiding for fear of death, was "not about money" but "about Germany's acknowledgement of these people's suffering", said Greg Schneider, the conference's executive vice president.

"They're finally getting recognition of the horrors they endured as children," he said.

However part of the agreement does not immediately cover survivors who were young Jewish children born in 1938 or later.

"We will continue to press for greater liberalisations to ensure that no Holocaust survivor is deprived of the recognition that each deserves," Stuart Eizenstat, special negotiator for the conference, said. "That's why we continue to negotiate."

Germany will now pay reparation pensions to a total of 66,000 people who survived Nazi death camps and ghettos, or had to hide or live under a false identity.

Mr Schneider said the humanitarian deal was reached because of a broadening of the criteria for payment to Holocaust survivors.

Under the new rules, from January 1, any Jew who spent at least 12 months in a ghetto, in hiding or living under a false identity, is eligible for a monthly pension of 300 euro (£256) a month. For countries in the former Soviet bloc, that amount is 260 euro (£222).

Until now, the minimum time requirement for living under such duress was 18 months.

Germany also has agreed to offer pensions to those who are 75 or older and spent three months in ghettos like the one operated in Budapest, Hungary, from November 1944 to January 1945. That provision is expected to affect about 4,500 survivors next year and 3,500 more once they are 75.

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