The statutory mandate and essential purpose of the Foundation was to make funds available via partner organisations to provide benefits for victims who had to perform forced labour during the period of National Socialism, or who sustained other personal injuries. Applications could also be made to the partner organisations for property losses, including insurance losses. The payments were concluded at the end of 2006. The Foundation has further made funds available in three special programmes, particularly for humanitarian projects to benefit survivors of the Holocaust. Benefits that lapsed on conclusion of the payments were and are likewise used by the partner organisations for humanitarian projects to benefit the surviving victims.
In accordance with the Foundation Law, applications for compensation for previously unpaid insurance claims from the National Socialist era were processed by the Washington-based International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). The applications were to be submitted to the Commission, which then decided on the entitlement to payments. Funding of DM 150 million (c. EUR 76.7 million) was made available for this purpose. A further DM 350 million (c. EUR 179 million) was earmarked for the establishment of a humanitarian fund.
ICHEIC was founded in 1988 by the US National Association of Insurance Commissioners in cooperation with European insurance companies, European insurance supervisory bodies, representatives of Jewish organisations and the State of Israel.
The procedures for submitting claims, processing and disbursement were set out in a trilateral agreement concluded by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”, the Gesamtverband der deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft (GDV; federation of the German insurance industry) - as representative of its member organisations, and ICHEIC. No further claims for payment for insurance losses can be processed. The ICHEIC has now ceased operations.
In addition to the funds paid out in connection with forced labour, the Law provided for an allocation of up to DM 50 million (EUR 25,560,000) as compensation for other personal injuries. Payments were disbursed to victims of cruel medical experiments conducted by National Socialists. Persons who as children were separated from their parents under the system of forced labour and lodged in homes for children of forced labourers were also entitled to compensation. In addition, payments were awarded to former forced labourers whose children died in these homes. For this suffering, the Foundation disbursed around EUR 6,700 to each of approximately 8,000 eligible survivors. Legal successors received smaller payments.
In accordance with the Foundation Law, a sum of DM 200 million (c. EUR 102 million) was provided to compensate for property losses suffered under the National Socialist regime resulting from the “essential, direct and harm-causing participation of German enterprises”. Of this, DM 150 million was allocated to property losses due to National Socialist persecution and a further DM 50 million for other property losses sustained in connection with National Socialist injustice. The cut-off date for applications for payments was 31 December 2001.
In accordance with the Law, an independent three-person commission (compensation commission) was instituted to decide on applications for property damage. On their instruction, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) disbursed payments to those entitled. In all, payments were made in 15,781 cases.