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Romania enacts legislation enabling restitution for Holocaust survivors

[JURIST] Romania's parliament [official website] approved legislation on Friday that facilitates financial support for Holocaust survivors. The law, which will be enforced starting July 1, will offer 400 lei (USD $97.98) per month for each year of deportation or detention to those who had their property taken or were forcefully removed from their homes to endure ghettos, concentration camps, death trains and forced labor. The restitution will be provided to those who are no longer Romanian citizens as well as living partners of Holocaust survivors provided they have not remarried. It is unclear how many are eligible for the payments or how much it will cost the Romanian government. Romania, an ally of Nazi Germany until August 1944, has a current population [Reuters report] of fewer than 11,000 Jews. Most of the beneficiaries [NYT report] of the new law, who are in their 80s and 90s, have been fighting to regain their lost property in cases that can last years. More than 40,000 claims are still pending.

International courts have recently seen an increase of war crime charges against former members of the Nazi party. Last year, Reinhold Hanning, a 94-year-old former Schutzstaffel (SS) guard in the Auschwitz death camp between 1942 and 1944, apologized to Nazi victims at his trial in Detmold [JURIST report], a small town in West Germany. Prior to 2011, German prosecutors often chose not to charge individuals they regarded as "cogs" in, rather than active members of, the Nazi war machine. The 2011 conviction [JURIST report] of former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk may have emboldened German prosecutors to pursue cases against all those who materially helped Nazi Germany function. In December 2015, a German court allowed [JURIST report] the trial of a 95-year-old Auschwitz paramedic accused of being an accessory to the murder of 3,681 people at Auschwitz. The most recent person imprisoned for their role in the Holocaust was Oskar Groening. Known as the "accountant of Auschwitz," Groening was charged [JURIST report] in September 2014 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people. In July 2015 Groening was given a four-year jail sentence for his role at Auschwitz, a sentence he said he would appeal [JURIST reports].

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