Interpretive Guide to the United Restitution Organization Claims Files

Claim Types

This guide divides the archival documents into categories based on the types of restitution claims that were made. This page contains background information about the different claim types. A complete alphabetized list of the documents in this guide can be found here.


BEG stands for "Bundesentschaedigungsgesetz", which is translated as "Federal Indemnification Law" or "Federal Law for the Compensation of the Victims of National Socialist Persecution." Programs derived from BEG laws compensate individuals persecuted for political, racial, religious, or ideological reasons who suffered long term damage to their health, imprisonment, death of family members, loss of property, reduced income, or reduced professional advancement.

The German compensation efforts were codified in three laws in the 1950s and 1960s. The first law, entitled the "Supplementary Law for the Compensation of the Victims of National Socialist Persecution," enacted October 1, 1953, implemented the initial German compensation program. It was followed by the "Federal Law for the Compensation of the Victims of National Socialist Persecution" of June 1956, which substantially expanded the first law's scope in favor of those receiving compensation. The "Final Federal Compensation Law" enacted on September 14, 1965, then increased the number of persons eligible for compensation as well as the assistance offered. The deadline for most BEG applications was 1965 although in certain special cases this deadline was extended as late as 1972.

BEG divides personal losses according to the following categories:

Although German authorities did not document the exact number of people who applied for BEG and other compensation, it is known that four million claims were submitted between 1953 and 1987. However, this figure gives only a very general indication of the numbers of claimants, as individuals submitted multiple claims under various categories. In terms of amounts of compensation paid, the German government provided a total of more than DM 72 billion for claims settled over this time. The German Government continues to pay money for pensions awarded under the BEG, but as the deadlines for filing claims under the BEG laws have expired, it is no longer possible to apply for compensation under these laws.

Main source: "German Compensation for National Socialist Crimes", United States Department of State (1996), as well as other references cited on our references page.

BEG-loss of life

Known as Category A claims, the Loss of life (Schaden an Leben) category of the BEG refers to the loss of a spouse, parent(s), or child(ren) under percecution.


Referred to as Category B claims, Damages to health (Schaden an Koerper oder Gesundheit) required the claimant to have suffered damages to health under the Nazis which diminished his or her earning capacity a minimum of 25%.

BEG-deprivation of liberty

Category C claims, deprivation of liberty claims (Schaden an Freiheit, Sterntragen, Illegalitaet), allowed claimants to file for being forced to live in a ghetto, concentration camp or forced labour camp; life in illegal circumstances (i.e. without residence status); the wearing of the yellow star; or life in designated "Jewish houses", for a minimum period of 12 months.

Hardship Fund

Beginning slowly in the 1960s and in increasing numbers in recent years, large numbers of Jews have emigrated from the former Soviet Union and other areas formerly designated as behind the Iron Curtain. These people had not been eligible to apply under the BEG and found that by the time of their emigration to the West the filing period for the BEG had expired. Therefore, in order to make compensation available to eligible members of this group, the Federal Republic of Germany created the Hardship Fund, administered by the Claims Conference through their German office.

This fund, which provides one-time payments to eligible survivors, was negotiated by the Claims Conference in 1980 and is still under their administration. Within URO offices these claims are often referred to as the "Russian Cases". These claims are divided into POST-65, Jews who were unable to claim under the Law BEG-SG because they left their Eastern European homeland after December, 1965, and PRE-65, victims who left their homeland before 1965 but who, for reasons deemed valid by Germany, were unable to make claims before the 1965 BEG deadline.

Applications for compensation under the Hardship Fund are still being accepted at this time. Compensation is available to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who (i) have received no previous compensation and (ii) currently live under difficult financial conditions. Compensation under the Hardship Fund consists of a one time payment of 5000 DM. For current application addresses, please see our references page.

Article 2

After unification the German government was forced to evaluate how the country would continue, or change the compensation efforts of what had been East and West Germany. During the 1990 negotiations on German unification, the decision was taken to confirm and partially extend West Germany's existing provisions on compensation. This decision was formalized in Article 2 of the "Agreement on the Enactment and Interpretation of the Unification Treaty" of September 18, 1990 that unified Germany. The Claims Conference negotiated the establishment of the Article 2 Fund in 1992, and continues to administer it.

Jewish victims of Nazi persecution are eligible for Article 2 if they were: 1. six months or longer in a concentration camp or eighteen months or longer in a ghetto or eighteen months or longer in hiding; 2. received no more than 35,000 DM (originally specified as 10,000 DM) in previous compensation; and 3. currently live under difficult financial circumstances. Compensation for those eligible was originally set as a lifetime pension of 500 DM per month, but is now a monthly pension of 270 Euro paid in quarterly installments every 3 months. There is no deadline for filing Article 2 claims as of the present time.

Other claims handled by URO - not illustrated in this guide

In addition to the major categories of claims listed above, URO offices handled various other claims arising from modifications or sub-sections of the BEG. Examples of these types of claims can be found in archival collections such as that of the CJCCC National Archives. They include:

BEG-SG ARTICLE V, or "SF" cases. This claim originated with BEG-SG, called the "Final Law", passed September 18, 1965. The "Beihilfe" (subsidy) was allocated to those who were residents of Eastern European countries - in practice, mainly Hungary - on October 1, 1953, and were therefore not able to file a claim when the BEG became effective. The subsidy was granted for loss of liberty.

BEG-SG Para. 150. Certain privileges were given to persons belonging to the German language and cultural group. These included the ability to file claims in cases where other surivors could not claim (e.g., if they missed the October 1, 1953 deadline; if they came from Israel after July 1952; or in cases where there was a revival of a widow's pension after her second husband died). This privilege could be claimed even after the initial claim was submitted according to the general provisions of the law and was therefore applicable to every survivor.

BEG-SG - paragraph 150, Abs 2/1971. This was a pension for health damage to certain emigrants of German nationality who left their country of origin after October 1, 1953.

BEG-SG - Section 165: "Haerteausgleich" (subsidies for needy survivors.) This subsidy granted support to people whose income combined with the indemnification money they may have received does not surpass the so-called "Existenzminimum" (poverty line.) The claim had to be submitted not later than 12 months after loss of income occurred.

BEG-SG ART IV "Zweitbescheide" (Second decision.) This concerns the reopening of once-rejected health claims on medical grounds in 1972. The reopening was possible only to such claims which had been rejected after September 18, 1965 (POST-65 claims), or those that were resolved in an unsatisfactory manner before that date (PRE-65 claims), i.e., after the publication of the Final Law.

BRUEG Para. 44a or "Jewelry Claims." The "BRUEG" - BUNDESRUECKERSTATTUNGSGESETZ (Federal Restitution Law) was passed on July 19, 1957, leading to a Hardship Fund established October 2, 1964. It regulated monetary losses and the loss of movable (personal) property, owing to confiscations outside the territory of West Germany and Berlin. France, Belgium, Holland and Alsace-Lorraine were the areas specifically covered by the law. Claims filed under BRUEG Para. 44a are divided into: Loss of jewelry and precious metals (Schmuck und Edelmetal) and Loss of household goods, e.g. furniture, etc. (Hausrat)

LAG: LASTENAUSGLEICHSGESETZ (Equalization of Burden Law) Passed in August, 1952, and modified in 1969, this law was originally intended to forestall social unrest in the Federal Republic of Germany in the aftermath of currency conversions that decimated the savings of large numbers of the population. Its original aim was to "equalize the burden" between those who had lost real estate, houses, businesses, industrial property, or bank accounts, and those whose assets had been spared. This law was eventually applied to survivor claimants who held German nationality between 1933 and May 8, 1945, and whose land, bank accounts, houses, businesses, etc., were either confiscated by the Nazis or relinquished by the owner under duress in the course of the war or in its aftermath. However, the claims procedure under LAG was extremely complex, and although URO spent much time in filing these claims, they usually met with little success: in the words of former London URO director Norman Bentwich "great labour for small returns." (Bentwich, 1968.)

Primary sources: “German Compensation for National Socialist Crimes,” United States Department of State (1996), “Compensation and Restitution by Country,” The Conference on Material Claims Against Germany online guide, The United Restitution Organization 1948-1968, by Norman Bentwich (London 1968), and Canadian Jewish Congress (Charities Committee) National Archives United Restitution Organization Records Finding Aid, compiled by Katalin Viragh, (Montreal) 1990.