HEARTBREAKING TESTIMONY RESULTED IN £2,660 PAYOUT
cern unsuccessful applicants, as heartfelt testimony came up against the cold efficiency of British bureaucracy.
Mali Biberstein received nothing from the scheme. She submitted an application in July 1965 on behalf of her only son Otto, who was killed in Auschwitz, aged 21.
He was deemed ineligible because he did not hold British citizenship at the time of his death. More than 900 failed applications, around a third of the total, were rejected on the basis of nationality.
Fay Simon, formerly Turgel, a RussianLithuanian Jew, described how she and her husband were arrested in Minsk and sent to a forced labour camp where her only child was killed.
She was then transported to BergenBelsen where her husband also died. Her wartime experiences had a lasting impact on her health and she would often wake up screaming in the night, something she blamed for the break-up of her second marriage.
However, her application was rejected on the basis that she had been eligible for an earlier compensation scheme. The fact she had missed the deadline for that scheme did not alter the outcome.
More than half the rejected applications were denied compensation because their mistreatment had occurred as Prisoners-of-War, internees, or in other civilian prisons, as only Nazi victims of “concentration camps or comparable prisons” were eligible under the scheme.
The files can be searched by name at www. nationalarchives.gov.uk and viewed on site at the National Archives in Kew
EVA Esther Wiseman from Rotterdam in Holland made a successful application on behalf of her British-born husband, Abraham, and her infant son Ino Izak Ferdinand Wiseman, who died in the Westerbork transit camp aged just 14 months old.
Mrs Wiseman, who took British nationality after her marriage, submitted a 14-page letter in support of her application, one of the most detailed testimonies in the collection. In it she describes her transportation to Westerbork. There, her infant son, suffering with an ear infection and dysentery and unable to see a doctor in time, died in her arms. She describes being taken to a prison camp where she was the only qualified nurse caring for more than 600 people.
She wrote: “In this camp it was awful. People were beaten, badly handled and punched. The Germans never left people alone, they were mostly drunk and they were always doing immoral things.”
Her husband was taken to various camps in Germany and Holland before they were eventually reunited at an internment camp for British citizens in Vittel, France. From there, the couple were able to make their way to England in November 1943, where Abraham underwent emergency surgery. After the war he continued to suffer “serious mental shock” and would often relive his wartime experience in the camps, particularly at night. He died in 1955.
Mrs Wiseman received £367 each for her and her husband’s time in Westerbork and £2,293 for the death of her son.