Holocaust survivors and their supporters protested outside Boca Raton City Hall Thursday to denounce Mayor Susan Whelchel's support of German insurer Allianz's sponsorship of a PGA event.
Members of Shalom International and the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA protested midday Thursday. The groups are upset over Allianz's activities in the Third Reich, including its collaboration with the Nazis and insuring the Auschwitz death camp.
"Why does Mayor Susan Whelchel continue to ignore the plight and rights of Holocaust survivors and family members and align herself with Allianz, the insurance company that collaborated with the Nazis, insured the death camps, and refused to honor tens of thousands of insurance policies it sold to European Jews with a current value over $2 billion?" Shalom President Bob Kunst said in a statement.
He told NBC Miami at the protest, "They were supporting the Nazi death camps, but they won’t support the survivors of those death camps."
A woman who answered the phone at Whelchel's office said the mayor was not expected at City Hall Thursday, and added "the people downstairs have the right to free speech."
"Allianz has been active in settling the insurance claims of Holocaust victims and their families ever since the end of the Second World War, both in cooperation with the Allied and German governments and, more recently – together with the U.S. and Israeli governments, the Jewish Claims Conference and others – through the International Commission on Holocaust-era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC)," Allianz spokeswoman Sabia Schwarzer said in a statement. "To this day, Allianz continues to pay any verifiably unsettled claims, whether submitted directly or through the New York State Holocaust Claims Processing Office, which has taken the lead in investigating and processing claims and advocating for claimants since ICHEIC completed its work in 2007."
Schwarzer added that Allianz's involvement in Nazi Germany has been well documented with the company's full support. "While we cannot undo any aspect of our company's history, we can learn from it and work to make sure the horrors of the Holocaust are never again repeated," she said.
David Schaecter, one of the survivors who stood outside City Hall Thursday, said he lost 105 people in his family during the Holocaust. He said he has been trying to collect on his family's claims.
“And when we went to inquire, they said you have to give us proof – you have to give us a death certificate,” he said. “But those Nazi bastards, while they were killing us, they didn’t issue death certificates.”
The Allianz Championship, an official PGA Champions Tour event, is scheduled for Feb. 6-12 at the Old Course at Broken Sound. Kunst said his group plans to protest at the event on the first and last day.