SEATTLE, Washington – Some 75 years ago, one of the worst parodies in human history occurred: the Holocaust. Six million Jews tortured and killed along with many other people from different backgrounds such as Slavs and Soviet prisoners. The past few years have been painful for Holocaust survivors due to the rise in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial around the world in addition to the recent spread of COVID-19. To provide assistance to Holocaust victims during this difficult pandemic, Germany agreed to a monumental decision in October 2020 to distribute more than half a million euros to 240,000 Holocaust survivors around the world.
Effects of COVID-19 on Holocaust Victims
COVID-19 has affected people and areas differently around the world; However, it is unique the effect of the backlash on the victims of the holocaust. This is mainly due to all the victims of the holocaust who are now in the elderly age group and have pre-existing medical conditions due to malnutrition while in concentration camps. Many countries have imposed strict quarantine measures, which have inadvertently returned traumatic memories for those who escaped the Holocaust. They are haunted by memories of when they had to hide and avoid the outside world for fear of being captured by the Nazis. The possibility of an unexpected famine has heightened this fear as elderly survivors fear leaving their homes for food and necessities due to COVID-19.
In the US, the lack of knowledge about technology has become a major setback for the daily routine of the elderly. Many survivors have case managers and social workers with whom they interact regularly, but they now have to do so virtually. To combat this, many different outreach agencies and programs have started delivering care packages. They have daily check-in phone calls aimed at helping reduce stress and anxiety.
A recent article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency details that trauma from the past has been so crippling that some have refused home visits out of panic being around anyone outside. Shelley Wernick is director of the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. He pointed out that many survivors showed optimism during the pandemic. He stated, “They told us that we will change forever but we will survive. They are still our teachers. They know what it means to have love and humanity in the face of adversity. “
Germany’s Response to the Problem
It has come to the attention of the German government and an organization known as the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany that the needs of these surviving victims cannot be ignored. The Claims and German Conference has established a joint partnership to find individuals who are eligible for assistance from displaced areas where survivors live. During the planned two-year period, the survivors will receive a total of 564 million euros ($ 662 million). This is in addition to a recently approved $ 36 million increase in funding for the current state welfare program for survivors.
COVID-19 has forced people to be more careful about their purchases. Many of the parents who survived the Holocaust were already struggling financially. COVID-19 makes it more difficult to pay for supplies and needed groceries. The aid was aimed at Jewish survivors who were residents of Germany but fled to other countries to take refuge.
For someone who experienced an event like the Holocaust it was bad enough, but living in such fear twice in one life is indescribable. This is why the German government stepped in to help by providing assistance to Holocaust survivors. Victims of this genocide deserve more community outreach and assistance than ever before. In addition, there are invaluable lessons and wisdom that remaining survivors can teach the world about how to progress from this pandemic as a global community.
– Brandon Baham |
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