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Hungary to Resume Reparations Payments

Following a yearlong freeze, a crisis is sidestepped

Romy Zipken
July 09, 2013
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.(AFP)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.(AFP)

After a debacle with the Claims Conference, the Hungarian government announced it would resume reparation payments— which had been on a “yearlong freeze”— for Holocaust survivors living abroad, reports the JTA. The decision was announced on Saturday by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar.

Hungary pledged $21 million in 2007 to Hungarian Holocaust survivors to be distributed over five years, in part by the Conference of Material Claims Against Germany. An extension of the agreement was to be signed last year, but Hungary froze the money transfers after accusing the Claims Conference of improper accounting.

The confusion rested with the money’s recipients, according to the Jerusalem Post. The money was given to the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment, known as Mazsok, but then the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration said last year that it couldn’t “identify the individuals eligible for compensation.” The executive director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, Gustav Zoltai, said it was a misunderstanding.

“The Claims Conference did not make this money disappear,” he said. Rather, the Claims Conference’s list of survivors in Israel did not match the list of survivors held by the Hungarian government due to refugees arriving in Israel and Hebraicizing their names. “They could not identify the persons. That was the problem,” he said.

The Hungarian government and the Claims Conference have agreed to hire an outside auditing firm to monitor the payments, according to Israel National News, which will hopefully stymie future predicaments.

The money is said to be ready for distribution on Tuesday.

Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.

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