Shalom Life | July 29, 2014

Holocaust Guilt Inspires Germans to Donate Estates to Israel

Donations from Germans have peaked in 2012, say Israeli government officials

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 1st, 2012 in News » Israel

Holocaust Guilt Inspires Germans to Donate Estates to Israel

Government sources in Israel say that there has been a rise in donations in 2012 from German citizens who wish to leave their estates to the State of Israel, according to Yedioth Ahronot.

Approximately once a month, a courier arrives at the Israeli embassy in Berlin with a letter sent from a recently deceased old German citizen and signed by an attorney stating that the deceased has decided to leave his or her money, home or jewels, and in some cases even gold bars, to Israel.

This phenomenon has gone on for years, says the Israeli embassy, as officials estimate that these donations are often sparked by the guilty conscience of some Germans due to the country’s dark past.

“We think these people's conscience was burdened with the mass extermination of the Jews and at the end of their days they decided to make amends by giving their estate to Israel,” an embassy official told Yedioth Ahronot.

Thus far, a total of 200 donors aged 80 to 100 years old have been recorded, with the largest single donation worth approximately NIS 6 million, or $1.5 million in Canadian currency.

The Israeli government says that there has been an increase in donations as of late, as this might be attributed to higher mortality rates of the donors due to old age.

While most donations are only revealed posthumously at the reading of the deceased’s will, some have even been known to occur during a donor’s lifetime.

After receiving these donations, the Israeli embassy in Berlin then transfers the assets over to the General State Custodian at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem.

A recent inquiry shows that many of the donors are devout Christians who decided to transfer their funds to Israel for religious reasons. The list also includes Jewish donors, probably childless, who decided to transfer their estate to Israel.

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