Holocaust survivor can keep pension: court

David Landes
David Landes - [email protected]

A Holocaust survivor living in Gothenburg in western Sweden will not have her Swedish pension cut because of compensation payments she receives from the German state, a Swedish court has ruled.


Miriam Landau, who moved to Sweden in the 1950s, has long received payments from the German state to compensate her for the time she spent living in a ghetto and concentration camp during World War II.

In the eyes of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), however, the Holocaust restitution payments were the equivalent of pension payments.

The agency argued that the payments Landau received for the time she spent working in the Nazi camp didn’t amount to war reparations, but rather were based on work performed in a job taken voluntarily.

As a result, the agency ordered Landau to pay back 42,942 kronor ($6,000) in Swedish pension payments.

Landau filed a suit to have the decision overturned, but an initial hearing with the Gothenburg administrative court of appeal (Kammarrätten) in November 2007 resulted in a ruling which supported the agency’s position.

But in a judgment handed down on Wednesday, Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrätten) found in favour of Landau, ruling that she had the right to keep the full amount of her Swedish pension.

In its ruling the court said that its assessment of Landau’s case was based largely on a September 2009 statement from the German social insurance agency which highlighted the “special legal character” of the Holocaust indemnity payments and stated that the payments “should not be considered as payments made through the social insurance system”.

The court rejected, however, Landau’s request that she be paid interest on the lost pension income, stating there was “no legal basis” by which interest could be paid.

Landau, who was born in Hungary in 1924, was diagnosed with double lung tuberculosis in 1945 following time in the ghetto and concentration camp.

As a result, she has been unable to work since moving to Sweden.


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