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Introduction to HSF-USA by David Schaecter

We hope you will follow our updated website for current activities and news about HSF’s work to provide justice and dignity for survivors.    

As we write, half of all Holocaust survivors around the world, including some 40,000 in the United States, live near or below the poverty line, and cannot afford sufficient food, shelter, medicine, health care, home care, dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, psychological counseling, and other services necessary for a dignified old age.

Our major emphasis in recent years has been to educate the public, and community and governmental leaders to highlight the German government’s responsibility to provide sufficient resources to provide for 100% of survivors needs are met so our brothers and sisters live their final years in dignity.  This is a matter of simple justice, and the living survivors among us deserve nothing less than complete medical, emergency, mental health care, and long-term care for the rest of their lives.

In the U.S., the largest populations of survivors are in New York, California, and Florida, and we have been fortunate that several of our elected representatives, such as Senators Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida, Senators Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Representatives John Garamendi, and Brad Sherman in California, and Representatives Elliott Engel and Carolyn Maloney in New York, have taken leadership roles in advocating for survivors’ rights and interests.  Others from states without a large survivor constituency have also been very supportive, such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. As Rep. Ros-Lehtinen wrote in an op-ed in the Hill, “Congress is in a unique position to work on behalf of our constituents to ensure that justice is won and that they receive the proper care and support they need to live out their days in dignity. The time for action is now.”

In 2014, HSF spearheaded the first hearings in the U.S. Congress which documented the scope, causes, and necessary remedies for survivors’ health and income needs.   The hearings documented that survivors’ extreme physical and mental-health challenges were caused by the Nazi German regime’s death camps, slave labor, torture, malnutrition, medical experiments and death marches, which have left their brutal legacy up to this very hour.

These hearings also showed that despite recent funding increases by Germany, the medically mandated treatments such as home healthcare, dental care, mental healthcare, medicine, hearing aids, and other vital services are not being provided, because funding levels are arbitrarily set without regard for the total level of actual needs, and because the current system of arbitrarily limited funding, rationed by the Claims Conference with no accountability, has caused massive suffering among survivors throughout the world.   

In 2016, the U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions urging Germany to provide 100% of the resources for survivors’ needs, and that the funds should be distributed directly to survivors or the service providers without unaccountable intermediaries.  LINK? We urge readers of this site to take this information to heart and join in our efforts to achieve justice and dignity for Holocaust survivors in our lifetimes.

Thank you,

David Schaecter, HSF-USA President