Photo by Joe Comperiati
It’s hard to put into words the scope of the tragedy of the Holocaust. The millions of victims of that outrage should never be forgotten and the few survivors that remain living should never be ignored.
Life, with all its joys and sorrows, carries on, and while survivors of the Holocaust may feel blessed to be decades removed and a world away from those dark days, many were devastated by the recent events of Superstorm Sandy.
Thankfully, these battered brave souls have not been ignored, as a slew of donations from the German Consulate, German charitable organizations and German corporations have poured in to help survivors with expenses incurred to their homes as a result of Sandy, according to a report in the Jewish Week.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, led by executive vice president Greg Schneider, had organized tours to Coney Island just weeks before the storm struck to keep up to date on the condition of Holocaust survivors living in the area.
“When the storm occurred, we got in touch with the German government and German industry,” [Schneinder] said. “Because of their visit to Coney Island and other parts of Brooklyn last year they had a mental picture of the area and knew exactly what we were talking to them about. I was able to say, ‘Remember, we went to this soup kitchen and met 10 survivors who talked of their experience in the ghetto.’ I told them that each of their homes had been flooded and that they had no electricity. And we sent them pictures we took of the area, as well as written material. And Rabbi Wiener sent them pictures of his office and of water rising in the streets.”
The German government’s awareness of the devastation caused to the communities in which many survivors live, spurred them to gather donations adding up to $4,000 from the Consulate itself, and inspire other German organizations to donate sums as well.
As a result of that outreach, Schneider said the GDV, an association of all German insurance companies, donated $26,000 to Sandy relief efforts. He said the giant German insurance company Allianz donated $50,000 to help restore the infrastructure of the JCC of Greater Coney Island.
“We had specifically mentioned that building to them, reminded them that they were there and that the entire office was destroyed,” Schneider said. “It was not a lavish office, by any means, but it lost all of its basic equipment — telephones, fax machines, computers, tables and chairs — and it all must be replaced. They came up with the number of $50,000 and have already sent a check.”
In addition, Schneider said, the board of the Claims Conference allocated $250,000 to help Holocaust survivors caught in the storm.