Swiss Banks Settlement: Refugee Class

Please note: This program is closed.

In early 2005, the Claims Conference concluded the Swiss Refugee Program, funded by the Refugee Class of the $1.25 billion Swiss Banks Settlement. The Settlement was reached in U.S. District Court in 1998 under Chief Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York.

The program compensated Jews who fled to Switzerland to escape the Nazis and were turned back at the border, expelled from the country, or mistreated while there. From December 2001 through early 2005, the Claims Conference paid a total of $10.6 million to 3,858 former refugees. These refugees are a group of Holocaust survivors whose experiences had never before been formally recognized. A summary of the story of every single survivor who received a payment under the Swiss Refugee Program is posted on the Claims Conference website, preserving a piece of previously little-known history.

This compensation program, relatively small in dollar amount compared to others, was significant in bringing to light untold stories of thousands of survivors. The claims process enabled an aspect of the Holocaust, previously shrouded in the myth of Swiss neutrality, to emerge from the stories of the survivors.

Under the terms of the settlement and the Plan of Allocation and Distribution, written by Special Master Judah Gribetz for the U.S. District Court and approved by Chief Judge Korman, these Swiss Refugees were awarded compensation in two categories.

Jewish Holocaust survivors who were denied entry into, or expelled from, Switzerland, received $3,625; those who were admitted but were detained, abused or otherwise mistreated were paid $725.