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U.S. survivors of the Holocaust eligible for reparations from Germany under a new Holocaust Claims Program should file their claims, even though the official deadline has passed, the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States announced today.

"The Commission will continue to accept claim forms as long as handling those claims will not interfere with the review of claims that were filed on time," said Commission Chair Delissa A. Ridgeway. However, potential claimants should file as soon as possible, to help ensure that their claims can be considered."

The new Holocaust Claims Program was announced by Attorney General Janet Reno in a June 13 speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The Attorney General stated, "It is essential that those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis receive reparations for what they lost."

The Holocaust Claims Program is based on a September 19, 1995 agreement between the United States and Germany in which Germany agreed to pay three million marks (about $2.1 million) to certain Americans who survived Nazi concentration camps, including Hugo Princz. Under that agreement, Germany also pledged to provide funds for reparations to additional U.S. survivors of the Holocaust whose claims are adjudicated before September 1997.

Congress passed legislation authorizing the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to determine the validity of claims under this agreement and give the information to the Department of State, which is to use those findings to negotiate a final settlement with Germany. The Department of Treasure will hold the funds received and make payments pursuant to the Commission's decisions.

Commission Chair Ridgeway emphasized that the new Holocaust Claims Program is open only to those Holocaust survivors who were U.S. citizens at the time of their Nazi persecution and were interned in a concentration camp or under comparable conditions.

The agreement excludes reparations for those subjected to forced labor only and for those who have received compensation from Germany previously.

The claims program offers the only opportunity for U.S. survivors of the Holocaust to receive compensation from Germany through the U.S. government.

Claims under the Holocaust program may be filed by completing and returning a form available from the Commission, Ridgeway said. To obtain the forms and other information about the Holocaust program, write to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, Washington, D.C. 20579.

Forms also can be obtained in person at the Commission office, 600 E Street, N.Y., Suite 6002, Washington, D.C.; or by telephone (202) 616-6975 or fax (202) 616-6993.

Attorney General Janet Reno stated recently in her address at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles:

"Our agreement with the Germany government will provide for compensation to persons who were, during the Holocaust, United States nationals and interned in concentration camps. The present Germany government has agreed to pay reparations to these individuals who still survive if they have not already received reparations."

Their claims will be adjudicated by the Justice Department's Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher worked tirelessly for this cause. Congressman Howard Berman here in Los Angeles was a particularly strong supporter. In addition, Senators Bradley and Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Dodd and Lieberman of Connecticut, as well as Congressman Charles Schumer of Brooklyn, Bill McCullum or Orlando, and Frank Palone from New Jersey, have toiled to achieve this result.

I have asked Delissa Ridgeway, the Chair of the Commission, to make this compensation process one of her most significant priorities. I know she cares deeply about this program, but she will need your help.

Put simply, there is no list of the individuals entitled to compensation. They are old and may be ill. There may be five, there may be fifty, but not likely many more. Those of you who have come here today have demonstrated that you care. Help us to find those who are entitled to compensation. There is little time, and this is the least we can do. We are distributing fact sheets which describe those who are entitled to reparations and the procedure for making a claim. Please take one and work with us to find anyone who may be eligible for the program.

As we look to the future with hope, we must never, ever let down our guard. We still fact challenges around this world, and I would like to discuss two with you today. One is international terrorism, and two is hate from within.

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