Uri Rantz lost his parents, brothers, and his entire family in the Holocaust.
“This is my picture with my parents,” he says, pointing to a black and white photo on his wall, showing his six-month-old self with his father and mother on either side. The rest of his photos were erased by Hitler and the Nazis.
The 90-year-old Hallandale Beach resident was the only survivor, but says he never thought about seeking compensation – until he got connected with Steven Marcus, an attorney at Fort Lauderdale’s Fowler, White and Boggs.
Marcus and associate Carey Villeneuve are helping South Florida Holocaust survivors obtain reparations – payments from the German government that date back to the atrocities from seven decades ago.
“I couldn’t think of a better pro bono project to get involved with,” Marcus said.
The two lawyers are currently working with 25 survivors and four have already been approved for monthly pension payments that range between $450 and $650 a month, for the rest of their lives.
South Florida has the second-largest population of Holocaust survivors in the country, so Marcus believes there are many more who qualify for the financial benefits, and he wants to help as many people as possible.
“Bigger than the money is that fact that we can’t ever forget what happened to them,” he said.
The application process for the new reparations program is complicated. Marcus and Villeneuve must use German translators. And survivors, to qualify, have to prove they suffered at least five years of persecution.
For some, the pension payments are about getting what’s owed to them.
But for Rantz it is more than that – he needed the money to help his wife treat dementia.
“This is the highest (form) of charity, because the charity is very important,” he said.
Survivors who want to see if they qualify should call Jewish Family Services at 954-370-2140.