Shoah survivors living in ‘shocking’ squalor


A large number of Holocaust survivors are living in poverty and squalor, a charity has warned.

The Six Point Foundation has revealed that at least 100 survivors “are struggling on state benefit and living below the breadline”.

Susan Cohen, the executive director for the charity, which provides financial support for survivors, said: “They are unable to pay for things they need, whether that is improving homes that are in squalid conditions, or paying for much needed care or household bills.

“We have seen survivors living in conditions that would shock the community. And we are in danger of not knowing about them because they are often too proud to ask for help and are not necessarily on our radar.”

To date, the Six Point Foundation has awarded over £680,000 in 530 grants to help those in need.

Mrs Cohen said: “Grants have been for one-off expenses to improve quality of life such as home adaptations, medical bills, travel costs and temporary care.”

Aviva Trup, service manager at Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors Centre, said she regularly refers cash-strapped clients to the Six Point Foundation. “In the last few years, an increasing number of Holocaust survivors have been coming to us.

“We are finding that an increasing number of survivors are living alone. Their situations differ greatly but some are living in far from ideal circumstances.”

She added that the local authority did not supply enough money to provide complete care for the survivors living in Jewish Care homes, with the organisation having to meet the shortfall.

“Our survivor services alone run at a deficit of over £420,000 per year,” she said.

Cezar Danon, 86, from North London, is one of the survivors living in a Jewish Care home. His daughter, Aida Danon, said: “He came here with nothing and no pension. He used to rent privately, he wasn’t known to any survivor community and he really struggled.

“He is severely disabled and Six Point Foundation helped to pay for necessary alterations to his bathroom. There is no way he could have afforded it otherwise.

Ms Danon said the help her father has received has transformed him, “he is a very proud man and when you have been through what he has, no one wants to be asking for help.

“I’m sure there are more survivors like him who came to the UK from places like Bosnia after they retired with nothing and now rely on help for everything.”

Thea Rudzinski, a Kindertransport refugee from Austria, needed help from the foundation when her husband passed away.

The 86-year-old from Tottenham said: “I needed help with the stone for his grave; it was a lot of money that I could not have paid.

“When you have been through what we have, we are very used to getting by on the bare minimum and you manage.
“I don’t like to ask for anything.

“But as you get older all the past comes back to you, some days you have are good and some are not.”

Mrs Cohen said: “It is essential that we ask ourselves about those survivors and refugees who are not on the radar like Thea.

“Are they in need, financially or otherwise? Are they not in contact with the survivor community and associated services by circumstance rather than choice?”

Mrs Cohen said: “We believe it is very important that every Holocaust survivor and refugee in this country is aware of the support available to them should they need it so that this type of tragedy doesn’t happen again.

"We need to help before it is too late and want to encourage people to look out for those who might need help.”

The Six Point Foundation was set up in 2011 with some of the proceeds from the disposal of assets which were owned by the Otto Schiff Housing Association (OSHA). Its determination to help survivors in need is driven in part by the memory of Franz Nebel, who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and died alone in his London flat in 2010. His body was discovered a month after his passing.“

In Israel, British Ambassador Matthew Gould, has set up the Cafe Britannia club to aid Holocaust survivors facing financial hardship.

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