Under the Nazi regime, tens of thousands of Jews lived in ghettos, working more or less normal jobs. Some of these ghettos had their own employment centers, and some employers even paid into retirements funds. Legislation known as “German Pensions for Work in Ghettos,” or by its German acronym, ZRBG (Gesetz zur Zahlbarmachung von Renten aus Beschäftigungen in einem Ghetto) was passed in 2002 to grant pensions to some of these former laborers. But more than ten years after its passage, its implementation was still subject to considerable conflict, mainly until the ZRBG-ÄndG (the Ghetto pension reform law) from August 2014 came into life, allowing fundamental jurisprudence to be incorporated in the form of legislation. For many years, former laborers in Nazi ghettos have been fighting to get the pension that this law ostensibly guarantees them, but the vast majority of their applications have been rejected. Since 2002, around 70,000 survivors have invoked the ZRBG. However, over ninety percent of these applications were initially rejected by German authorities for various legal and practical reasons.
This book is an attempt to summarize the major steps in the implementation of the law. It begins with an overview of the historical background, and then will shift focus to the judicial, diplomatic, political, and practical problems with the implementation of the ZRBG.