Current Chair of Operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) Gideon Taylor will shortly be appointed as president of the Claims Conference, replacing Julius Berman who is stepping down.
Taylor has served since 2013 as chair of operations at the WJRO, which advocates for the restitution of Jewish property in eastern European countries, and before that served as the executive vice president of the claims conference from 2000 to 2009.
Taylor’s candidacy, which will be announced on June 30, was backed by several prominent Holocaust survivor organizations and Jewish groups, including the Center Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel; the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors; the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants as well as the Holocaust Restitution Committee.
During his time at the WJRO, Taylor helped secure legislation relating to heirless Jewish property in Serbia, former Jewish-owned communal property in Romania and Latvia and social welfare payments for survivors in Poland.
While at the Claims Conference, he led negotiations for Holocaust-era compensation and restitution leading to the establishment of the $5 billion German “Remembrance, Responsibility, and the Future” Foundation, and “administered compensation programs which involved the distribution of payments totaling $6b. to hundreds of thousands of Jewish Nazi victims.”
Since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in indemnification to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis.
A source close to the Claims Conference said that “as we see the passing of the final generation of survivors, the Claims Conference will keep fighting on behalf of survivors to ensure they have the dignity as they age that they did not have in their youth.”
The source added that the COVID-19 pandemic has “created new challenges that the Claims Conference is working to address – it needs to ensure that help gets to survivors safely when contact with people can be dangerous and to combat social isolation of survivors living alone at these hard times.”