Hannah is a 92-year old widow and a Holocaust survivor. After the German invasion, she was forced to live and work in a ghetto in Poland, and then spent the second half of the war in hiding. Shortly after liberation she emigrated to the United States where she and her husband lived until his death in 1997.
Living solely on a fixed income and struggling with mounting medical expenses, in 2003 Hannah applied for a ghetto pension from Germany with the hope of stabilizing her income. Ghetto pensions are available to Holocaust survivors who were employed for remuneration during their internment in Nazi ghettos. However, Hannah’s application was denied based on allegations that she did not receive “valuable” consideration for her work in the ghetto, i.e. she did not receive monetary compensation.
Over a six-year period, NYLAG appealed Hannah’s case, first at an administrative level, and later in the German courts. At one point, Hannah, testifying from the U.S. via teleconference, provided compelling testimony regarding the “valuable” consideration that she received. However, the judge ruled against her. Finally, the law was changed in July 2009 to expand the definition of “valuable” consideration to include extra food rations, which Hannah could prove she received. As a result of NYLAG’s persistent efforts in this case, Hannah was awarded a monthly pension, as well as a significant retroactive payment. She is now able to manage her bills and afford her medical care.