Letter: Use Nazi gold to ease plight of survivors

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is at last serious talk of restoring money to those Jews and their families who deposited funds in Swiss banks, and who later became victims of the Holocaust. There is also a suggestion that the pounds 40m that the Bank of England stills holds from the Nazis should be used for the benefit of families of victims of the Holocaust.

While we realise that it will never be possible to be absolutely equitable in the distribution of such funds, as and when they become available, there is one overlooked group who we believe should be a priority, to whom funds must be made available now.

Of the approximately 6 million Jews, and 7 million other victims of the Holocaust, there are still some half a million survivors living today. Many of these survivors are still emotionally and mentally tortured by their experience. In many cases the difficulties of these survivors have grown more severe with old age. We propose that an appropriate international body should administer the substantial funds needed so that adequate emotional and appropriate medical support for the long-term effects of trauma can be guaranteed to these people.

Perhaps by this act we will enable survivors finally to find some respite. The children of Holocaust victims suffer disproportionate emotional problems. These have also been largely unaddressed, thereby perpetuating the legacy of this violation of humanity.

Survivors still endure the ongoing consequences of the Holocaust, and we believe that the first duty is to help them. At present there are grossly inadequate funds for the necessary ongoing support that many survivors require. We urge all those who are looking for what is just and equitable not to forget the needs of those living - especially those who still inhabit a private world of torture, created by experiences that few of us today can imagine.

RICHARD HORNSBY

Director, the Sir Robert Mond Memorial Trust

HELEN BAMBER

Director, the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture

The Hon DAVID BERNSTEIN

JUNE JACOBS

HELENA KENNEDY QC

LORD LESTER QC

KATHARINE, VISCOUNTESS MACMILLAN

Rabbi JULIA NEUBERGER

Rabbi JOHN RAYNER

Lord ROTHSCHILD

Sir SIGMUND STERNBERG

Dr ANTHONY STORR

Dr STUART TURNER

President, European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Professor JAMES WATSON

Chairman Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals

LADY ZUCKERMAN

London SW1

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