Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated June 4, 2023

01. – Who runs this site?

This site is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, and is funded through a generous grant from the UJA-Federation of New York. The project is administered by a social worker who has had worked professionally with Holocaust survivors for more than a decade with an agency in New York City, and it is a collaboration between individual volunteer professional translators and translation agencies in the US, Poland and Australia. We are in regular contact with Polish government agency representatives who answer our questions, and with the Claims Conference, which updates us on recent developments. (top)

02. – Why was this site started?

When it became clear that Polish Holocaust survivors, their families and social workers were stymied in their efforts to apply for the pension because of the requirement that all correspondence be carried out in Polish, an effort was launched to provide free translation services to streamline the process. (top)

03. - Why is Poland giving Holocaust survivors a pension?

In truth, it is a misnomer to call this payment a “pension.” It is more accurate to call it a benefit that Poland offers to Holocaust survivors as a recognition of their suffering during the war. Furthermore, it is incorrect to call it “reparations,” since that implies that Poland is responsible for the persecution of Jews during the Second World War. Such a term in this context is uniquely employed by Germany, which for the last 70 years has taken full responsibility for the campaign to destroy European Jewry. By contrast, Poland extends this benefit out of a national responsibility to assist those victims of war-time persecution who were born within its borders. We continue to refer to the benefit colloquially as the “Polish pension” since that is how it was informally called when Poland first offered it to Holocaust survivors living abroad in 2015. However, we plan to change this name in the future. (top)

04. – Who is eligible for this pension?

The Polish government deems eligible anyone they consider to be a “victim of oppression”. Broadly, for Holocaust survivors, this category includes:
*imprisonment in Nazi prisons, concentration and death camps
*imprisonment in other penal institutions, where living conditions were similar to those of concentration camps
*confinement to ghettos due to ethnic and racial reasons
*compulsory exile and deportation to the former USSR
Please note that excluded from these eligibility criteria are those who fled voluntarily from Poland, those who fought within Russian partisan groups, and those who hid in the forests or were given refuge by Poles. (top)

05. – Must all correspondence be in Polish? If so, why?

Yes. The Law on the Polish Language of 7 October 1999 mandated that governmental bodies perform all public tasks in Polish. The Law states that the Polish language is an essential element of Polish national identity, which must be protected especially in an age of globalization. (top)

06. – How do I begin the process of applying?

If an applicant or those assisting him or her have no background regarding the application, it might be worthwhile to read the overview of the process. The initial application, instructions and other pertinent information can be found here. (top)

07. – How much is it?

The payment is broken up into three parts (with corresponding payments current as of May 16, 2023):
The veteran’s benefit – 294.39 zł
The energy allowance – 255.17 zł
Compensatory allowance – 44.16 zł
This is a total of 593.72 zł, which is equivalent (as of May 16, 2023) to approximately US$143/month. The payment is made quarterly, on the 20th of the third month. Thus, quarterly payments of 1781.16 (593.72/month x 3 months), or approximately US$430, are made on March 20, June 20, September 20, and December 20.
While the amount in Polish złoty is set, the US Dollar amounts – as well as any other foreign currency equivalent – will fluctuate depending upon the international currency exchange rate.(top)

08. – If I am rejected, can I appeal?

Yes. Please look at this section of the site for more information on appeals. (top)

09. – Are widows or widowers of Holocaust survivors entitled to the payment?

Widows and widowers are theoretically entitled to receive the payment, but the restrictions are limiting:
-The deceased spouse must have applied and been approved for the payment.
-The widow or widower of the deceased spouse must already be receiving a regular retirement pension from Poland.
-The widow or widower cannot receive both a payment for him- or herself as well as a payment for his or her deceased spouse.
Effectively, this means it is virtually impossible for widows and widowers living abroad to receive a payment on behalf of the deceased spouse. (top)

10. – Can I use as evidence the fact that I receive money from Germany?

Yes. When applying, you may include a copy of your BEG or Ghetto Pension proof of payment or life certificate to show that you have been recognized as being in a concentration camp or ghetto.However, that alone is not fully persuasive, and must be accompanied by other evidence.(top)

11. – Will Poland pay out money for restitution for property seized from Jews during the war?

This is an ongoing issue, and various politicians have been pushing for restitution for all Jews who lost their property during the war. But it remains unresolved as of yet. However, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) continues to pursue this issue. Please look at the WJRO Website for more information. (top)

12. – Is there a deadline for applying?

No. Applications are being accepted continuously. (top)

13. – Will you help others applying for these benefits if they are not Holocaust survivors?

We periodically receive inquiries from non-Jewish Poles who suffered persecution during the war and who are also eligible for the benefits but need assistance with their applications. Our grant allows us only to serve Holocaust survivors. However, we are happy to direct those inquiries to helpful Polish resources and authorities which should be able to help. (top)

14. – Will you help Holocaust survivors with other reparations programs besides the Polish pension, such as those offered by Germany?

In the last couple of years, we have been using our experience and resources to assist with other reparations applications. If you or a survivor whom you are assisting needs help with restitution, please feel free to contact us, and we can discuss what we might be able to do. (top)