NEW YORK, NY.-
Julius Berman, Chairman of the Claims Conference
, announces that the Claims Conference Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation of its special Search Committee to appoint Gregory Schneider as the organizations new Executive Vice-President. In accepting the position, Mr. Schneider outlined the organizations current priorities and challenges ahead, emphasizing the imperative to address the social welfare needs of Nazi victims and obtain compensation for Nazi victims who have not yet received payments.
I am confident that Mr. Schneider will be an exemplary Executive Vice President, guiding the staff with vision for the challenges that lie ahead, and continuing the Claims Conference tradition of strong executive leadership, said Mr. Berman. He is unquestionably dedicated to serving Jewish victims of Nazism, with a drive and commitment that has resulted in payments to hundreds of thousands of them and groundbreaking social care in more than 40 countries. Mr. Schneider is highly respected by the entire board for his foresight, intellect, and creativity.
I am honored to help fulfill the Claims Conferences mission, with this organization having a task unparalleled in Jewish history. It has been in existence for 58 of the 70 years since the beginning of World War II, and there is much work still ahead of us. There are victims who have yet to be acknowledged with compensation payments, and tens of thousands who are increasingly in need of homecare and medical care, said Mr. Schneider. Jewish Nazi victims in many countries cannot receive the care they need due to financial constraints. It is unacceptable to me that victims who spent their youths in camps, ghettos, hiding, or fleeing persecution cannot now receive the best possible treatment available in their old age.
For a number of years, the Claims Conference has negotiated with the German government to obtain funds to address the growing homecare needs of elderly Nazi victims. Since 2004, the German government has provided 88.5 million for in-home services for Nazi victims. In the March 2009 negotiations, the Claims Conference obtained a commitment of 7.5 million for the first quarter of 2010. A second, unprecedented negotiating session will take place in late 2009 to discuss German government funding for vital social service needs of Nazi victims. The Claims Conference will also raise at that time the issue of the increasing medical costs faced by Nazi victims, especially those countries of Eastern Europe with little or no social safety net.
The Claims Conference also continues to negotiate to liberalize and expand German government eligibility criteria for individual compensation programs for Nazi victims. In recent years, these negotiations have resulted in tens of thousands of payments to victims who otherwise would not have received them.
The recent Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets focused international attention on the continuing lack of comprehensive property restitution legislation in Eastern Europe. The Claims Conference will be intensifying its efforts with the World Jewish Restitution Organization to press for the return of stolen Jewish assets.
The Search Committee that was formed to recommend an individual to serve as the next Claims Conference Executive Vice President met numerous times, initially to set the criteria for the position, and subsequently to review applications for the position. Applications for the position were submitted by 73 individuals.
Following interviews with certain candidates and deliberations, the Search Committee unanimously recommended to the Board of Directors that Mr. Schneider be appointed as Executive Vice President at the 2009 annual meeting.
The Committee noted Mr. Schneiders 14 years of experience with the Claims Conference, most recently as Chief Operating Officer. Among his numerous invaluable contributions to the organization, Mr. Schneider conceived and implemented the Program for Former Slave and Forced Laborers, which has paid $1.4 billion to 174,000 Holocaust survivors in 87 countries, the result of distributing and processing applications in eight languages, working with hundreds of local organizations worldwide that assisted applicants, and helping document tens of thousands of claims that otherwise would have been deemed ineligible.
Mr. Schneider has also overseen the Claims Conferences Institutional Allocations Program since its inception in 1995, facilitating its growth from $90 million allocated in 24 countries to the $190 million allocated in 2009 to benefit Nazi victims in 43 countries. Mr. Schneiders unquestioned dedication to the social welfare needs of elderly Nazi victims has been a major factor in the growth of this program, which has pioneered care for Nazi victims around the world.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.