By MARTIN ZEILIG In late July, I received a document from a friend, which was sent to him by someone associated with the Beamsville, Ontario-based charitable organization, Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine , (FOMCU).
The document was part one of a story written by Iryna Lynka, the mayor of Molochansk, a city in eastern Ukraine.
Lynka was captured by the Russians around March 15 after Russia’s unprovoked, illegal and genocidal invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. She was released three and a half weeks later, and is now living in the Ukrainian controlled city of Zaporozhian, Alvin Suderman, the FOMCU Chair in Steinbach, wrote in an email to me.
“It is a horrific story,” he wrote.
“Imagine being held in the prison in Tokmak listening to the screams of people being tortured.”
The report was translated into English by Oksana Druchynina, the FOMCU manager now living in Abbotsford; B.C. Ms. Druchhnina is still translating the second part of Ms. Lynka’s narrative.
The former mayor of a town in south eastern Ukraine has finally been released, after nearly four weeks in Russian captivity. What’s more, she is defiant.
“And I didn’t surrender, I was reborn from tears. I was born Ukrainian.” Those words are from a song Iryna Lynka knew before she was abducted by Russian soldiers.
Iryna was elected mayor of Molochansk in Zaporizhzhia. After Russia attacked Ukraine in February, her community was occupied in two days. She says initially, the Russians did not behave cruelly, as it seemed they believed their own propaganda that they would be welcomed. They were wrong. When the security arm of the Russian military arrived, three weeks later, the abductions began.
“On March 31, at 6 am, they came to my home. A search was conducted. My sister and my mother, who is 82-years-old, were staying overnight. I asked them not to disturb my family, and they did not. First, they asked if there were police or Ukrainian soldiers in our house. I could report that there were none.
“Then they asked why I—as a local politician— supported a pro-Ukrainian party called the “Servant of the People” rather than the pro-Russian party called OPZZH. They took away all the papers and work files. They took me outside and the home was searched by five Russian agents. I noticed that there were many fully armed men on the street. They surrounded the house.
“As they were taking me away, we passed a Russian armoured vehicle, and the driver turned to me and scornfully said: ‘Are you disappointed that this is not the Ukrainian Armed Forces!’”
WITH A BAG ON THE HEAD
“Then they put a bag on my head and put me in another car. They drove to the Tokmak police station, 12 km away. My deputy and another town worker were also brought there. I noticed through the fabric covering my face that they also had bags on their heads. Their primary goal was to lure me— as the head of the community— to their side.
They took my phone and passport and said that we know everything about you, that you have authority among the population and that you are very suitable for us. They wanted me to join their side, to make a video of me distributing their “humanitarian aid” and to talk about the advantages of the Russian Federation. I was to tell people to join the Russian side. And I immediately said “No.”
“At first, they seemed to be polite, addressing me with respect. Then later, they were very rude and disrespectful.”
Iryna says she was interrogated by young security services men who were not older than 30. They teased and threatened her.
“They opened my passport and saw my place of birth, which is the Lviv region. But I have lived almost my entire life in Eastern Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia.
“Ah, so you are a true Bandera! “ (a pejorative term for Ukrainians, coined after the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semite Stepan Bandera), they said.
“All the interrogations took place at the police office assembly hall. I had been placed on a chair in the middle of the room, surrounded by six to eight men with machine guns pointed at me. They all wore balaclavas, but I will never forget their eyes. I think I could recognize them now.”
“I was told I had two options: to cooperate or to hope for an exchange. Of course, I wouldn’t want to go with a suitcase to an unknown place where I don’t have anywhere to live. But personally, I did not imagine how it is possible to cooperate with them. Later, the lawyers in Ukraine explained to me that if I had given my consent to cooperate, it would not have been seen as collaboration by Ukrainian authorities, since I was forced under machine guns, and it would not have been a voluntary decision. But I immediately understood that Russians are people with whom there will be no compromise, no dialogue. And if I had agreed to hand out their ‘humanitarian aid,’ then they would have had more orders, they would never stop forcing me to do what they need.”
BLACKMAIL AND THREATS
As a result of refusing to cooperate, Iryna was threatened and told her family and children (she has two adult sons) would suffer the consequences. “They said: ‘You will die and rot here. We will take you to Russia and we will put you before the court and judge you according to Russian laws. No one will find you!’ ”. She understood all this was possible.
“I was interrogated in the evening when it was already dark. They were angry… because they couldn’t get what they wanted from me, they couldn’t do anything with me. But physically they did not touch me.”
Still, Iryna says they used whatever means they could to intimidate and blackmail her. She says when she returned to her cell after the interrogations, everything felt mixed up. She had never written poetry in her life yet, while in captivity, she wrote half a dozen poems.
She did not know what would happen from one minute to the next, and whether she would ever be released.
And she recalled her friend’s song. “When I remembered these lines, I didn’t think about my troubles, but I thought of people who had it much harder than me, and especially our men and women at the front. And I had to survive through all these troubles. I only asked and prayed to God that they would not take advantage of my family, so they would not arrest and torture them.”
OUR GUYS WERE
But Iryna‘s time in her cell was excruciating. She could not bear the sounds she heard coming from men being tortured nearby.
“We, the women, were not beaten up, but what I heard… the window in the cell was opened deliberately so that I could hear what was happening there, how people screamed, how they were mocked. The boys were brutally beaten, which was not done to the women! They were moaning, and screaming, and begging… just horror. Later, one of them told me that they poured water into a bowl and passed an electric stream through his legs, and something was inserted under his nails, and he was pricked.
“And here you are, lying in the cell, no one touches you, but you are tortured by those sounds and screams of terror. I thought how can those who torture people, return to their families, how can they hug their wives and children, be gentle? They were not acting human.”
“KYIV, CHERNIGIV AND
SUMY ARE OURS!”
While in captivity, Iryna had no information from the outside. Taking advantage of this, the security services officials said that the Russians had already taken Kyiv, they had taken Chernihiv and that there would be no Ukraine.
“Somehow, I was able to receive a small package of chocolate and prunes from my sister, Svetlana. Hidden inside, was a note: ‘Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy are ours!’ ”
“God, how I kissed that note! I understood that they were deceiving me, that everything was not so bad. Over time I received a few more notes. How important that was. It broadened my understanding of what was happening.”
“Something I won’t forget is how afraid I was of getting sick. In April, it was very cold in the concrete cell. My feet were freezing. Medicines were sometimes given, but there were times when a doctor was deliberately not called. Once I woke up and I was shaking; I took a pill. I did not know whether my blood pressure was very low or, on the contrary, too high. I called for a doctor, but he never came. And in the evening, they called me for questioning and smiling, asked ‘Well, how are you?’ I said that everything was fine, but I thought to myself, ‘You will not get me!’ For them, all their tactics were acceptable, and I understood that one must never show weakness or fear. I’m not saying that I’m fearless and I was not afraid. No, I was afraid. I understood that anything could happen.”
HOPE FOR AN EXCHANGE
“A week later, I signed a letter of resignation, saying I was no longer mayor. I understood that according to Ukrainian laws, this would not change anything, but the security services wanted me to formally acknowledge I was not the head of the community. Together with the resignation letter, I made a written request to be included in a prisoner exchange and this was handed over to the Molochansk town council.
“Although under the Geneva Convention, civilians cannot be captured and therefore can’t be exchanged, the Russians did just that. They abducted people so they could have an ‘exchange fund’ for their side.
“My name was included on a prisoner exchange list three times. Two Russian soldiers were offered for me. However, I was taken off the list every time. I’m convinced that the man who lost the mayoralty election to me, and who now cooperates with the Russians, helped remove my name.”
“One day, a new commander was going around the cells. I asked him about a prisoner exchange. He told me it was ‘in the process.’ That’s when I realized an exchange was very possible. Soon, during another interrogation, an officer offered to record a video of me appealing to my community, with propaganda about the Russian Federation.
“I refused again. ‘Then you will die in the cell!’ And I said, ‘I will be exchanged!’ He replied that they tore up my application and flushed it down the toilet, that there would be no exchange. ‘It will happen,’ I said. ‘There is already a resolution.” He snapped: “How do you know?”I told him that I had been informed. He shouted: ‘That’s it! No more relief packages from your family.’
“I was afraid that they would search the cell and find the notes. As soon as I returned from the interrogation, I tore the notes up. These pieces of paper were so dear to me, I reread them multiple times, but I threw them into the toilet.”
RELEASED, BUT THE FEAR REMAINS
In the end, Iryna Lypka was not exchanged, but released. The Russians did not explain anything. She believes that she was saved because the men holding her captive were reassigned and a new, more compassionate team was brought in.
“I was released in the afternoon on April 23, just before Easter. When I came out, I was so dizzy, that my legs wobbled. I was not weak, but the arrest left its mark. For example, I woke up on Sunday at home, opened my eyes and got scared – why is there so much light in the room?
“Or when a dog barks on the street – I run to the window. If a tractor is driving by, I imagine that I see a tank. If I see Russian military vehicles driving by, I think they must be coming for me.
“Soon after my release, Mayor Kotelevskyi of Tokmak was killed. This is the city where I was held prisoner. Officially it was declared to be a suicide, but the people did not believe that. As the deposed mayor of Molochansk, I did not feel safe and this is when I felt I had to leave.”
In the end, together with her 82-year-old mother and her sister’s family, Iryna left for the nearest Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia.
“IF WE FIND BANDERA –
WE WILL SHOOT EVERYONE!”
Iryna Lypka says it is difficult for Ukrainian people to understand the Russian army.
“The Russian soldiers went from house to house and asked, ‘Do you have Bandera?’, and people laughed at them. The Russians said, ‘If we find them – we’ll shoot everyone!’
“Some Russians made themselves at home in one of the houses. The owner came in and smelled a terrible stench from dirty clothes and socks. She was indignant: ‘You could at least ventilate. They were surprised: ‘Are you saying that your windows open?’ It turns out that they had never seen double-glazed windows, yet they came to Ukraine to ‘save’ us.
“Russian soldiers are amazed that the houses are all built of brick and stone. It appears that they rob households of microwave ovens as they have never seen them before. The occupiers also told her that they have no natural gas in the villages in Russia. That is, the pipeline goes through the village, but there is no access to the gas for the villagers.
“They were amazed at everything – the paved road, natural gas, and streetlights.
“The security services tried to tell me during the interrogations that Ukraine is a mess and that Zelensky is bad. On the contrary, I started telling them about the program… ‘Big construction’ being implemented in the country – roads, schools, gardens, sports complexes—large facilities are being built. We have problems and we need to solve them, but we do not go to Russia to solve theirs.
“Only once, during the interrogation, one of them blurted out that ‘I feel sorry for you because you are a woman.’ And others have no emotions – they just have the orders they follow. And they just have a terrible hatred for us.”
Now Iryna Lypka is in Zaporizhzhia, dealing with issues of financing the community, as well as issuing documents to graduates of the schools in the area. She also organizes the work of the Children’s Affairs Service. In Zaporizhzhia, they are trying to help those who have fled the Russian-occupied area, and they are also arranging humanitarian aid. Those who leave Zaporizhzhia deliver necessary goods to the Russian-occupied community.
The new mayor appointed by the Russians operates in Molochansk. He drives Iryna’s car around the town, the one the Russians seized from her.
“There are people in Molochansk who cooperate with the Russians or seem happy about their new life. There are women who live with the Russian occupiers.
“I cannot understand these people. They see what the Russians do, how they mock the Ukrainians, how they rob and take everything from people. Everyone sees everything with their own eyes, not from the TV screen. And someone goes to bed with that animal. It simply cannot be understood.
“What can be said, of people who are well- off, fighting to get in line for Russian ‘humanitarian aid,’ so that even the Russians laugh and film them? Well, one could understand if people were really bloated with hunger. But each of us has potatoes and vegetable gardens. You should not disrespect yourself like that! I also don’t understand a person who always puts her hand on her chest while singing the National Anthem of Ukraine and today is collaborating with the occupiers. However, there are just a few of them. There are more patriotic people than corrupt ones.”
“I believe in our Armed Forces. I believe that we will definitely win and rebuild our beloved Ukraine. Let’s all believe!”
Coming Soon: 5 New Online Slots from Award-Winning Providers
Meta: Here are some of the world’s best new online slot machines that are coming soon to several fully licensed & regulated online casinos.
As the festive season fast approaches, there are lots of new online slot machines to look forward to from various market-leading, multi-award-winning online casino game development studios and software providers.
If you live in Canada and want to be one of the first online casino players to try out some of these hotly anticipated new online slots, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive straight in to reveal the names of several eagerly awaited new slots.
Top new online slots coming soon
Instead of listing all 100+ new online slots that are expected to arrive at some point over the coming weeks, here are just a handful of the most talked-about new slots that will soon be arriving at various fully licensed and regulated iGaming sites like the official ComeOn online casino.
You will be able to launch these new slots instantly in your web browser, and you will be able to play them in the real money mode and free play practice mode. However, you must be at least 19 if you wish to play them for real money.
Without further ado, the top 5 new online slots to keep an eye out for over the coming weeks are the following:
- Galactic Racers Dream Drop progressive jackpot online slot by Relax Gaming
- Hoop Kings online slot by Booming Games
- Breaking Bad: Cash Collect & Link online slot by Playtech
- Book of Yuletide online slot by Quickspin
- John Hunter Nell ’Antica Roma online slot by Pragmatic Play
There are no official launch dates available for any of these new slots. However, many of these games are likely to have already arrived by the time you are reading these words.
Some of the other upcoming new online slot machines to keep an eye out for in November and December 2023 are Gargantoonz, Sherwood Gold, Viking Runecraft 100 and Mega Don: Feeding Frenzy from Play’n GO, Finn and the Candy Spin, Elk Hunter and Gem Crush from NetEnt, and Jester’s Riches from Booming Games.
Others include Gold Hit: O’Reilly’s Charms, Hold Hit & Link JP Bacon & Co., Hercules Rules, Silent Samurai: Mega Cash Collect, and Lunar Link: Sky King, which are all from Playtech.
What are the latest slots I can play today?
If you can’t wait for any of these new slots to arrive and want to try out some of the latest online slots that are available to play today, then you may like to try Gold Trio: Sinbad’s Riches online slot by Ash Gaming (a Playtech subsidiary company), Megaways Bushido Princess online slot by Relax Gaming, and Big Bad Wolf: Pigs of Steel online slot by Quickspin.
Other suggestions include Area Cash Thor by Area Vegas and Games Global, Megaways: Duel of the Dead by Relax Gaming, Nile Fortune by Pragmatic Play, Win-O-RamaXL Extended by Relax Gaming, Juiced: Duomax online by Yggdrasil Gaming, and Candy Paradise by Just for the Win Studios and Games Global, to name just a few.
When playing online slots or any other casino games in the real money mode, remember to stay within your budget, take regular breaks, never chase your losses, and, where possible, take advantage of the ‘safer gambling tools’ for a safer and more enjoyable time.
Alan Guberman: from epilepsy to pancakes in 50 years
By GERRY POSNER Some individuals have had to learn an entirely different field in life while winding down from their main line of work. Well, welcome Alan Guberman who is the poster child for this kind of challenge. Hard as it is to believe, Alan was a prominent neurologist and then later in life, restaurant entrepreneur.
For those of you who can go back a distance, the Guberman name might be readily recognizable for its connection to the famous Original Pancake House restaurant on Pembina Highway. If that is where you directed your memory, you are on the right path. Allan is the son of Wally Guberman, who opened the first pancake house with his brother Monty in 1958.
Alan and his sister, Joanne, grew up in the south end of Winnipeg. After he finished high school at Kelvin and obtained his BSc at the University of Manitoba, Alan did what was uncommon back in the 1960s, when he went away and obtained his MD at McGill University in 1970. After three post-graduate years at McGill, he did his three- year neurology residency in St. Louis at Washington University and then a year of epilepsy studies in Marseille, France.
Alan returned to settle in Ottawa where he spent his whole career running the epilepsy programme at the Ottawa Hospital. He served as the Head of the Neurology Division and Director of the residency programme in Neurology for several years. He was involved actively in no fewer than12 clinical trials of antiepileptic drugs starting in 1989 and, in fact, he published extensively on epilepsy and neurology including fifty-three articles and four books. Truth be told, Alan Guberman at his peak was one of the most recognized specialists in Canada, the go-to guy for adult epilepsy in Ottawa and Eastern Quebec and – he could lecture about the subject in both French and English.
One of Guberman’s main focuses was neurology and epilepsy education. He served on several national and international boards related to epilepsy, drug development and gave numerous presentations to general neurologists and paramedical personnel. To top it off, in 2018, well after his retirement in 2012, Alan was awarded the prestigious Wilder Penfield Gold Medal by the Canadian League Against Epilepsy for outstanding lifetime clinical and/or research contributions achievement in epilepsy. Not a lot of Jewish Winnipeggers from Waverley Street, past or present, can make that statement.
Alan and his wife, Denyse Charlebois, a retired teacher, reside in Ottawa. The parent of four boys and five girls, Alan’s son Daniel is himself a busy plastic surgeon, while one of his daughters, Liana, is a dentist who has a thriving office in Ottawa.
Now given that background, it was a major challenge when, in 2004 after his father’s death, Alan, while still working full time as a neurologist and epileptologist (I rarely get a chance to use that word) in Ottawa, entered the pancake arena…quite a bit of a jump. Being the son of Wally, he had spent some time working at the Pancake Houses during his summers growing up in Winnipeg, but he was never involved afterwards. (As an aside, I have a very definite memory of that place because on my very first day at the University of Manitoba in 1960, our car pool stopped and had breakfast there. The pancakes left an indelible impression on me.)
The task of becoming a restaurateur was larger even than the famous Giant Apple Pancake, so well- known by residents and ex-residents of Winnipeg. I wondered about that move and asked Alan about it. He looked upon it as applying some of the analytic, communication and management skills that he had spent a lifetime honing in academic medicine to the restaurant business. He mentioned he was brought up to speed over the years by his business partner, Hazel Kushner, who had worked with his father for many years and served as general manager of the restaurants. Alan quickly realized that he could not mange restaurants from afar and thus relied on and continues to rely on Hazel, who lives in Winnipeg and is a highly skilled and experienced, hands- on manager. In 2019, Alan received an offer he could not refuse and sold the restaurant on Pembina. That decision left him with the three other locations, at the former Clarion Hotel, the Forks Market and the newest one, on McGillivray Boulevard.
So, at 78 years of age, Alan Guberman, retired from medicine and neurology for over ten years, now pursues his passion for bird photography, improving his golf, cheering for the Ottawa Senators, following the latest technology advances, keeping up with the news and more importantly, watching his and Denyse’s grandchildren grow. He remains very much in the pancake game and loves to travel to Winnipeg to sample the latest Pancake House creation. Just writing about the restaurant makes me want to visit to Winnipeg for a trip to the newest facility
“Reckonings” – riveting documentary film explains how the agreement to offer reparations to Holocaust victims came about
By BERNIE BELLAN Since 1952 the German government has paid more than $562 billion in compensation for crimes committed during the Holocaust, of which $472 billion has been paid to the State of Israel (in goods and services) and $90 billion in cash to individual Holocaust survivors.
How the German government came to agree to compensate victims of the Holocaust is a fascinating story – and one that is the subject of a spellbinding documentary film called “Reckonings.”
On Sunday afternoon, November 12 over 150 people gathered in the auditorium of Westwood Collegiate in St. James to view “Reckonings” and to participate in a discussion that followed the film led by Jewish Heritage of Western Canada Executive Director Belle Jarniewski and Jewish Child and Family Service Holocaust Support Services Worker Adeena Lungen.
The event was timed to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht – “the night of broken glass,” which took place Nov. 9-10, throughout Germany, when over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps, and at least 100 Jews killed.
“Reckonings,” released in 2022, was directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Roberta Grossman. In a style first pioneered by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Grossman uses historical footage, occasional reenactments, interviews with various individuals who appear from time to time throughout the film – but never for more than a couple of minutes at one time, and music composed to fit the moment, all in a fast-cutting mode that maintains your attention throughout the 74 minutes of the film.
The crux of the story is how the West German government, led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, decided to take full responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust, and offer reparations to Holocaust victims.
If there is any one hero in this film, it is Adenauer. As the film explains, he was a former mayor of Cologne whose family was fiercely anti-Nazi. As well, Adenauer was a devout Catholic – something that played a significant role in his wanting to come to terms with German guilt and atone for the collective sins of the German people.
On the Jewish side, the key figure working with Adenauer – and negotiating on behalf of Holocaust victims was Nahum Goldmann, who co-founded the World Jewish Congress in 1936 with Rabbi Stephen Wise.
Goldmann had been stripped of his German citizenship by the racist German Nuremberg laws (and although the film doesn’t explain it, he found refuge in Honduras.) Yet, the fact he was German-born and was able to develop a warm relationship with Adenauer proved key to the eventual creation of what came to be known as the “The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.”
The film unravels the many complexities that were involved in negotiating what turned out to be an agreement of monumental consequence, especially bringing together Jewish and German negotiators across from one another.
In the opening moments of “Reckonings,” co-producer Karen Heilig observes, “You can just imagine what it was like for Jewish representatives to sit down with German representatives only seven years after World War II…It was like negotiating with the devil.”
As the film explains, Israelis themselves were largely opposed to negotiating reparations with the German government. As Heilig observes, “They didn’t want German money.”
Similarly, most of the German population was also opposed to the idea of reparations. “Only 11% of the German population supported compensation” for Jews, according to the film.
In a very interesting insight into the psyche of the German population following the war, it is also noted that, when it came to who the German people thought were most victimized by the war, “Jews were last on the list.”
Amidst what was evidently still a deeply-rooted antisemitism within the German population – and strong opposition from within his own party (Christian Democrat), Adenauer remained adamant that Germany would negotiate reparations – both for individual victims of the Holocaust and for the recently formed State of Israel. (The Federal Republic of Germany itself only came into being in 1949.)
One of the crucial factors in Israel agreeing to negotiate reparations – after having been so solidly opposed, came toward the end of 1951, the film explains, as a result of the Israeli treasury almost being totally bare. The reason was the extraordinarily high cost that the Israeli government had incurred as a result of absorbing hundreds of thousands of refugees since the formation of the state – both Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab countries.
Yet, despite the precarious state of Israel’s finances, there were still many who refused to countenance the notion of Israel accepting German reparations. In fact, at the time that negotiation began, in 1952, there was a boycott of German goods in Israel.
As the leader of Herut (also leader of the Opposition in the Knesset), Menachem Begin insisted, “reparations will lead to cleansing the guilt of the German people.”
However, notwithstanding the fierce opposition from among many Israelis to entering into negotiations with the German government, Israel’s government, led by David Ben Gurion, did announce that it was ready to discuss reparations, but it led off with a claim for $1 billion – the cost, it said, for absorbing 500,000 Holocaust survivors.
Adenauer agreed to negotiate with both the Israeli government and a representative organization of the Jewish people – but at the time there was no organization in place to do that.
Thus was created “The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany,” with Nachum Goldmann at its head. The other members of the negotiating team had clear goals in mind: What they were negotiating with the West German government was not about “morality,” it was about dollars and cents.
To that end, the negotiators wanted to break down compensation into two different categories: compensation for personal suffering and compensation for property lost to the Nazis.
The problem was: Who would claim compensation for property when everyone who might have owned particular properties had been annihilated?
I actually put that question to Adeena Lungen during the discussion that followed, since the film didn’t go into any detail as to how that circle could be squared. Adeena explained that survivors of Holocaust victims are often able to claim compensation for personal suffering, for which there is significant information available, but compensation for loss of property is often much more difficult to ascertain.
Agencies such as JCFS, which help survivors apply for compensation often rely upon archival information that “gives a wealth of information about property based on the recollections of others from a particular shtetl.” As Adeena further noted, “in Poland, wherever you lived there was a document that recorded where you lived” – and there is now an “online database” based upon those documents from where anyone can get detailed information about where individuals lived.
Before teams representing the three parties (West Germany, Israel, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) for the coming negotiations met, however, Konrad Adenauer met with Nahum Goldmann in secret to determine certain basic points: Was West Germany actually ready to pay reparations and where would the negotiations take place?
The answers to those questions were: Yes, West Germany was ready to pay and two, the negotiations were to be held in a neutral county – in this case, The Netherlands.
Although Israel and the Claims Conference were to be separate parties to negotiations with West Germany, it was agreed that Israel and the Claims Conference would coordinate their strategies together.
Prior to the commencement of negotiations, however, the film explains, “German officials wanted to come to terms with the rest of the world, then Israel and the Claims Conference,” but Israel took the position that “No, you have to come to terms with us and the Claims Conference, then the rest of the world.”
With West Germany accepting that as a pre-condition to negotiations, the representatives met and, after a prolonged series of negotiations, West Germany did agree to provide $857 million in reparations, of which $750 million was to go to Israel (but not in cash, as the film explains; rather, it was in goods and services, including raw materials, industrial machinery, and ships for the Israeli navy), while the Claims Conference was to receive $107 million.
However, many individuals were excluded from the deal to receive compensation, including anyone living behind the Iron Curtain and people who had been in hiding during the war.
One of the key individuals during the negotiations with Germany was Ben Ferencz, who passed away this past April. Not only was Ferencz the sole surviving negotiator for the Claim Conference, as Belle Jarniewski also pointed out, Ferencz was the last surviving prosecutor from the famed Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. Ferencz is featured quite prominently in “Reckonings,” as he was able to give a first-hand account of what the negotiations were like.
The final agreement worked out between West Germany and Israel, on the one hand, and West Germany and the Claims Conference, on the other, came to be known as the Luxembourg Agreement. It has served as the basis for all subsequent agreements to compensate Holocaust victims by the German government.
Of the $90 billion that has been paid out in reparations since 1953, over 270,000 Holocaust survivors were among the first recipients of the initial $107 million paid in 1953. Since then, an additional 500,000 individuals have received payments. And, although the Luxembourg agreement was only intended to provide compensation to survivors in 1953, ever since then there have been regular negotiations between the German government and the Claims Conference, which have resulted in varying amounts being negotiated each time.
Insofar as Holocaust survivors who moved to Winnipeg are concerned – of whom there have been over 1500 individuals over the years, Belle Jarniewski explained the process through which they receive compensation from the German government.
In 1948 something called the United Restitution Office was established to help Holocaust survivors. (The Canadian office was founded in 1952.) The purpose of the office was to help survivors with individual claims. Case files were established for survivors, including claims and documentation describing difficulties survivors have encountered during their lifetimes. In 2022 those files were transferred to the care of the Jewish Heritage Centre.
Adeena Lungen (about whose role at JCFS helping Holocaust survivors we described in some detail in an article in our December 20, 2021 issue, which can be downloaded on our website – simply go to jewishpostandnews.ca and, under the “Search Archive” tab at the top, and enter Dec. 20, 2021 to download the complete issue. The article about Adeena is on page 3.), explained that JCFS has been working with Holocaust survivors in Winnipeg since 2000. Adeena has been serving in her role as Holocaust support services worker for the past 20 years, she noted.
Adeena noted that, in addition to compensation available from the German government for Holocaust survivors, other countries have, in recent years, also begun to offer compensation in certain cases. (For instance, in our two most recent issues we posted an advertisement for compensation now being offered to Jews who were former residents of Lithuania.) Other countries offering compensation now include France, Austria, Poland and Romania, Adeena added.
When asked how a survivor could go about proving that they are actually a Holocaust survivor (and there have been numerous bogus attempts over the years by individuals falsely claiming to be Holocaust survivors), Adeena described the steps JCFS, for instance, will take to verify someone’s claim, noting however that, while JCFS will do an initial assessment of someone’s claim, the final determination rests with the Claims Conference.
According to Adeena, a claimant must submit documents, such as identity papers from the country of origin.
Currently there are still 200,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide, of whom 150,000 have been receiving distributions from the Claims Conference. Adeena noted that new files are still being opened for Holocaust survivors. (Apparently there are still Holocaust survivors who have been unaware that they are eligible to receive compensation.)
In 2022, for instance, the Claims Conference was able to distribute $562 million to 150,000 individual Holocaust survivors. An additional $750 million was distributed to social welfare agencies worldwide, including JCFS. If you would like more information about compensation for Holocaust survivors, contact Adeena Lungen at email@example.com.