Conducted By the Claims Conference, The Demographic Study Identifies Jewish Holocaust Survivors In More Than 90 Countries; 49 Percent Reside In Israel, 18 Percent Reside In North America.

Holocaust survivor Katharina lives in Zurich, Switzerland with her husband, Erwin, who is also a Holocaust survivor.
Holocaust survivor Katharina lives in Zurich, Switzerland with her husband, Erwin, who is also a Holocaust survivor.

NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2024 — Today, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) released the Global Demographic Report on Jewish Holocaust Survivors, a demographic study on Jewish Holocaust survivors living around the world. The study reveals approximately 245,000 Holocaust survivors are still living across more than 90 countries.

Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference, said, “The data we have amassed, not only tells us how many and where survivors are, it clearly indicates that most survivors are at a period of life where their need for care and services is growing. Now is the time to double down on our attention on this waning population. Now is when they need us the most.”

Since its founding in 1951, the Claims Conference has been dedicated to securing a measure of justice for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. As a result of ongoing negotiations with the German government, the Claims Conference has achieved and administers several compensation programs that provide direct payments to survivors globally, provides grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide and ensures survivors receive much-needed services such as home care, food, medicine, transportation and socialization.

The facilitation of these programs, funding and services has led to a global compilation of information on Jewish Holocaust survivors. This information, while not the only resource, served as a foundation of the Global Demographic Report on Jewish Holocaust Survivors. The report summarizes data on the demographic composition of Jewish Holocaust survivors worldwide, outlining country of birth as well as current country of residence, age, sex and what percentage of survivors are receiving various compensations and services.

Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference, said, “The numbers in this report are interesting, but it is also important to look past the numbers to see the individuals they represent. These are Jews who were born into a world that wanted to see them murdered. They endured the atrocities of the Holocaust in their youth and were forced to rebuild an entire life out of the ashes of the camps and ghettos that ended their families and communities. The data forces us to accept the reality that Holocaust survivors won’t be with us forever, indeed, we have already lost most survivors.”

The Global Demographic Report on Jewish Holocaust Survivors identifies survivors living in more than 90 countries. Nearly half (49 percent) of all Jewish Holocaust survivors live in Israel, with an additional 18 percent in North America and 18 percent in Western Europe. At the time of publication, the median age of survivors is 86; ages range from 77 years to over 100, with birthdates reaching back as far as 1912.

Reha Bennicasa and her mother, Rose Girone
Reha Bennicasa and her mother, Rose Girone

Holocaust survivor, Reha Bennicasa, daughter of Rose Girone, the oldest living Holocaust survivor known to the Claims Conference said, “As a survivor and daughter of a survivor, I cannot stress enough how important it is to share our testimonies. Personally, I am pleased that my mother has reached 112 years of age, and to learn that she is the oldest Holocaust survivor. My Mother and I survived German and then Japanese oppression. Her strength throughout this horror and in all other facets of her life are amazing. She is a wonderful example to me and, hopefully, to the world. Given the declining survivor population and the rise in antisemitism, we need to encourage the world to learn about our collective history so that the Holocaust will never happen again.”

Prof. Emeritus Sergio DellaPergola, Hebrew University
Prof. Emeritus Sergio DellaPergola, Hebrew University

Sergio DellaPergola, Professor Emeritus and former Chairman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, said, “The demographic report published by the Claims Conference with the number of remaining living survivors is an important contribution in our obligation to the living witnesses that deserve any support they need in their remaining years.”

Dani Dayan, Yad Vashem Chairman said, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Claims Conference for compiling this crucial report about Holocaust survivors today. This demographic study is a warning to me, highlighting the current demographic state of Holocaust survivors globally. It underlines the urgency of our work to continue gathering and researching the testimonies and names of these remarkable individuals before the survivor generation disappears. May their presence continue to strengthen our resolve to shape a better future.”

In terms of compensation and services, nearly half (40 percent) of Holocaust survivors worldwide — all of whom receive, have received or qualify for Holocaust-related compensation — are provided social welfare services that are subsidized by the Claims Conference. About 17 percent of these survivors receive Claims Conference’s Article 2 and Central and Eastern European Fund (CEEF) – programs established to provide monthly “pension” payments for survivors who were incarcerated in camps, ghettos or who lived in hiding or under false identity – and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) have received at least one payment under the Hardship Fund Supplemental Payment program, a payment for survivors who do not receive a monthly pension payment through one of the other programs.

Michael Berenbaum, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University, said, “This clear and comprehensive report highlights important data analysis across many disparate compensation and social welfare programs as only the Claims Conference can do. It also demonstrates that even as the number of survivors decreases day by day, the needs of those who are still alive only increases. At the same time, it illustrates that we have many countries with only a handful of these extraordinary individuals still gracing our world, underscoring the urgency of learning from their survival and resilience. This is it, this is our last chance to recognize them, to celebrate them and to learn from them. We should all be asking ourselves what we are doing to make that happen before it is too late.”

Key Findings

Claims Conference Global Demographic Report on Jewish Holocaust Survivors key findings include:

  • There are an estimated 245,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors globally, living across more than 90 countries.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of all survivors reside in Israel; 18 percent reside in Western Europe and 18 percent reside in North America, with 16 percent of all survivors worldwide residing in the United States. Approximately 12 percent reside in countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU).
  • The median age of Jewish Holocaust survivors is 86. The population of survivors at the time of this report ranges in age from 77 to over 100 years of age and are born between the years of 1912 and 1946.
  • The majority of Jewish Holocaust survivors (95 percent) are “child survivors” who were born between 1928 and 1946.
  • 20 percent of Jewish Holocaust survivors are over the age of 90. This is a period of life characterized by an increased need for care and services.
  • The majority of Jewish Holocaust survivors are female (61 percent) as only 39 percent of the population are male.
  • Nearly 40 percent of survivors receive monthly payments through Claims Conference programs negotiated with Germany, while the remaining population are eligible for one-time or annual payments.
  • Forty percent of survivors are currently receiving or have received in the past year social welfare services provided by over 300 agencies that receive grants administered by the Claims Conference. Services include homecare, food, medicine, transportation socialization and other services specific to the individual needs of survivors.

In addition to the Global Demographic Report on Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the Claims Conference has also released a New York demographic report. Both the global report and the New York specific report can be seen here:

Zina and her husband Isaak have received compensation from the Claims Conference for their persecution as Jews during the Holocaust.
Zina and her husband Isaak have received compensation from the Claims Conference for their persecution as Jews during the Holocaust.