July 13th, 2000 No. 17/2000:
Spain to Give to Sephardic Holocaust Fund
WJC NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spain has agreed to contribute $1.5 million to a fund for Holocaust survivors who are Sephardic Jews - descendants of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) said on Thursday.
Spain, in a July 10 letter made available to Reuters, asked the WJC to place a priority on aiding Holocaust survivors from the Aegean seaport of Thessalonica in Greece, most of whom were killed in the Holocaust, as well as Sephardic Holocaust survivors from Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia and Tunisia. Many Sephardic Jews resettled in those areas of southeastern Europe after Spain expelled its Jewish population in 1492.
The fund for Sephardic Jews who survived the Holocaust is being established by the WJC. Spain's decision to contribute to the fund reflected its sense of responsibility for its role in the Second World War, when it provided the Nazis with tungsten used in armor-piercing shells, the WJC said. Payment for the metal was made with gold looted from Jews and European central banks.
The Allies warned neutral nations in February 1944 against taking Nazi gold because it might have been stolen from Holocaust victims and nations the Germans had overrun. Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director, praised Spain for its handling of the issue of its wartime gold transactions. "They (Spain) were absolutely objective and identified the moral issue here. This is not a question of whether it was legal or not. It is a shining example to other countries,'' he said.