Allianz AG

Today’s Haaretz reports that the giant insurance company Allianz AG, one of the bastions of the German economy, is still proving reluctant to pay out on life insurance policies taken out by Holocaust victims.

The arguments used are chillingly similar to those of the Swiss banks during the 1990s Nazi gold scandal: lack of proper documentation, for despite their legendary thoroughness the Nazis did not issue death certificates at the camps.

In fact Allianz AG agreed to start paying so six years ago, in 1998. Of course, only a cynic, or someone unappreciative of German industry’s efforts to compensate for its central role in the Holocaust would argue that Allianz is playing a waiting game until the question of compensation becomes entirely academic:

Haaretz writes:

Amiram Barkat adds: Meanwhile, the World Jewish Congress is pressing the Allianz AG Insurance company of Germany to speed up its handling of the payment of claims to the heirs of Nazi victims who held policies with it.

Allianz is one of the largest insurance groups in the world. According to Holocaust historians and legal experts, such as Professors Michael Bazyler and Gerald Feldman from the United States, Allianz insured the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as other death camps.

In 1998, after a public campaign waged by the WJC and other Jewish bodies, Allianz and four other large insurance companies signed an agreement to pay compensation to heirs of Holocaust victims that had held policies with them.

Allianz has so far received some 20,000 claims from the heirs, but about a month ago, it informed the committee supervising the work on the claims that it planned to turn down some 7,000 of them because they lacked details of identification. Of these, 1,700 include the full name of the policy-holder. The WJC contends that there is sufficient information from the claims to locate the original policies.

WJC’s Israel director, Bobby Brown, told Haaretz that the congress was demanding to know whether Allianz had thoroughly checked its archives in an attempt to identify the policy-holders.