A House panel pushed legislation ahead on Wednesday to give thousands of Holocaust survivors the right to sue European insurers for insurance benefits that are estimated to total approximately $20 billion.
The bill was approved by Foreign Affairs Committee voice vote, allowing the aging Holocaust survivors living in the United States the access they need to American courts in order to force certain insurance companies – such as Assicurazioni Generali in Italy, and Allianz SE in Germany – to have to disclose their pre-World War II policy lists for the Jews.
Among those various policies are annuities, life insurance, and even dowries that had been purchased for the daughters of Jewish families, believing that those girls would be able to obtain the money when they turned 18 years old.
In a large number of instances, the government archives and records at the insurance companies are the only proof that remains of those insurance policy purchases.
According to the chairperson of the committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) – in whose district resides a large number of the estimated 100,000 Holocaust survivors currently living in the United States – the recently approved legislation was “the last hope for Holocaust survivors to obtain justice.”
The bill had been hanging around in congress for around five years, and it must still be considered by the House Judiciary Committee. Its opposition still exists in the form of the German government as well as the U.S. State Department.
Germany pointed out that billions of dollars have already made in payments and reparations to these survivors and other victims of the Nazis. Furthermore, approximately $305 million has been paid by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, and $200 million more has been given to survivor humanitarian programs.