Roman R. Kent Suite 1007 New York, NY 10001 Dear Roman,
Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation - USA
November 1, 2007
We are deeply saddened and disturbed to see that you have sided with the German government and the insurance industry in opposition to the rights of Holocaust survivors, heirs, and beneficiaries to a full accounting and payment of policies sold to our families. Your October 22 letter, although clearly designed to allow you to stand outside the fray, unfortunately places you squarely with the apologists who continue to block survivors’ rights to billions of dollars unjustly withheld from our families by unrepentant global insurers. Although your letter to David Schaecter tries to skirt around the issue, Max Liebman informed one of our members and others that you had, in fact, agreed to allow the German Ambassador to use the name of the American Gathering in his letter to Congressman Tom Lantos opposing HR 1746. Did anyone else from the Gathering consent to allowing the Germans to use the group’s name? Your statement that “American Gathering would never authorize anyone to oppose the efforts of survivors to receive their fair share of compensation” is spurious and misleading. You know full well that due to court decisions supporting the German insurance industry and Generali, survivors whose ICHEIC claims were denied, or who never filed a claim because they lack any documentation about a family policy, can not seek redress in the courts. Without passage of HR 1746, their rights are finished. You know full well they have no chance for “fair compensation.” By acquiescing in Germany’s opposition to HR 1746, you are opposing survivors’ rights to fair compensation. The same goes for your suggestion that survivors rights should be limited to imploring those companies that “agreed to” accept claims after ICHEIC closed. Aside from the fact that not all companies agreed to accept claims, their dishonesty for these past 60 years is the reason why survivors and family members have been denied payment of an estimated $17 billion in unpaid insurance claims. The lack of a judicial remedy has given the companies the green light to deny us access to records and to deny claims at will. We have never understood how any survivor can passively accept the ICHEIC results and the court decisions that threaten to make ICHEIC the last word. If the German government position stands, then there will be one and only one group of people in America who lack the basic legal right to sue insurance companies who collect premiums then withhold payments. What is that group? Holocaust survivors and the families of Hitler’s murdered victims. How can you justify singling out survivors and heirs for this deprivation of their basic rights? Look how long these survivors have been forced to live in poverty as the insurance companies have been unjustly enriched, as they have been able to cap the level of payments they decide they should give to some few survivors and their families now at the pitiful level of only three percent!
“JUSTICE AND DIGNITY FOR SURVIVORS” 4200 BISCAYNE BLVD MIAMI, FL. 33137-3279
Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation – USA
You continue to defend what ICHEIC has done, while we all know that many of us had policies for which real compensation should have been paid long ago. We know that tens of thousands of insurance policies kept in company archives remain unpublished that would provide the proofs we could not possibly have after all documentation went up in flames at Auschwitz and Treblinka and over six hundred other camps. How can you tolerate such corrupt processes after all we have endured for the past seven decades of horror and sadness? Roman, as you well know, an insurance policy is a contract to pay under a given and stated set of circumstances not to be paid or refused at the whim of the insurance company. To most, the entire effort with ICHEIC and the Claims Conference was created and run for the benefit of the companies, so they can add to their bottom lines the billions which really mean nothing to them but everything to us, whose families paid those precious and limited funds into their coffers. What has happened thus far clearly shows these companies never intended to fully disgorge our money as decency and laws require them to do. When survivors get legal and moral peace, then the insurance companies will deserve to be granted legal peace. Up until now they do not deserve to be free of legal responsibilities of having withheld copies of our families insurance policies which survivors could hardly be expected to have from the Hell that was the death and labor camps and they then dare say that they have paid all those who can PROVE they had policies. You can’t have it both ways any more, Roman. You say you do not oppose any survivors’ rights to obtain their insurance money, but you have facilitated the Germans’ opposition to HR 1746, the only reasonable chance of allowing survivors to obtain the information that has been withheld for decades and to have any judicial oversight over the companies. If you do not wish to stand with the survivor community and publicly support the legislation, at the very least we expect that you and the American Gathering stand aside and stop hindering justice.
Signed: Izzy Arbeiter, Boston Nesse Godin, Washington, D.C. David Mermelstein, Miami Alex Moskovic, Hobe Sound Leo Rechter, Queens Jack Rubin, Boynton Beach David Schaecter, Miami Henry Schuster, Las Vegas Fred Taucher, Seattle Esther Widman, Brooklyn Lea Weems, Houston