71 years after the end of the Second World War the collective story of the millions of victims of Nazism and genocide is well known, but as survivors become fewer, first hand accounts are shifting from the spoken to the written word.
New files released today at The National Archives are the latest documentary evidence to shed new light on this history, in this case by offering a glimpse into how West Germany compensated â€“ in monetary terms â€“ British victims of Nazi persecution.
After a period of negotiation beginning in the mid-1950s, the West German state agreed in 1964 to provide the British government with Â£1 million to distribute as compensation among British victims of National Socialism. After making a call for applicants via newspapers, the radio and television, the Foreign Office received over 4,000 forms from individuals who claimed to have been victims of Nazi persecution.
However, by the end of the process the Foreign Office was only able to accept 1,015 of these claims; the reasons behind the refusal of the other 3,000 applicants rested largely on different definitions of the term â€˜persecutionâ€™. In their attempt to reach and compensate with the limited funds available those who had suffered the most, the Foreign Office applied relatively narrow criteria of eligibility for what constituted persecution. Though there were exceptions throughout the process, this typically meant having been interred in a ‘concentration camp or comparable institution’Â (PIN 76/3). Continue reading »