Eisenberg Helps Holocaust Victim’s Son Obtain Reparations From France
Of Counsel Leah Eisenberg has helped secure reparations for the son of a French Jewish man who was deported during the German occupation of France in World War II and later died at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Eisenberg had been working at her desk one day last year when she received a completely unexpected call from a man named Leon, who had heard about a French program that provides reparations to people who lost a parent in the Holocaust and wanted her help applying for it.
She said her first inclination was to refer the man to one of her colleagues who had had some experience helping Holocaust survivors obtain compensation for the wrongs they suffered.
But she soon decided that she – a third-generation Holocaust survivor – should take it upon herself to figure out how to help this man obtain the benefits to which he was entitled.
Eisenberg researched the program, which indemnifies orphans whose parents were the victims of anti-Semitic persecution during the occupation and who died in deportation. Beneficiaries are entitled to a lump-sum payment of 180,000 francs or a monthly stipend of 3,000 francs for life.
Leon, who was born during the war, told Eisenberg that his father had been rounded up by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz on a French-own train. His mother placed him and his older brother in an orphanage while she went into hiding, working as a maid in Belgium. After the war, the three of them were miraculously reunited and eventually came to live in the United States.
After meeting several times with Leon to obtain the documents he needed to apply for the program, Eisenberg, with the help of a French-speaking colleague, was able to translate and complete the application forms on Leon’s behalf. Late last year, Leon received his first monthly stipend of approximately $700, plus a retroactive amount for the five months his application had been pending prior to approval.
Now, Eisenberg is planning to repeat the process on behalf of Leon’s brother. She is also researching other programs for which Leon and his brother may be eligible.
While the practice of law has its own rewards, Eisenberg says, there are few things in life more rewarding than dedicating your time, your skills, and your resources to help somebody as deserving as Leon.
“The opportunity to help Leon – and now his brother – is a gift that has given me a deeper appreciation for how our skills and resources can be used to bring a little light into someone else’s life,” she says.