The Jewish diaspora has had a significant presence in Argentina since the middle of the nineteenth century. The country received an influx of Jewish immigrants from Europe during World War II (WWII). Argentina has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world and the largest in Latin America with a population of about 200,000, according to the World Jewish Congress. Although estimates differ, informed sources report that there are approximately 200 Holocaust survivors remaining in Argentina. Argentina’s Museum of the Holocaust recorded 900 confirmed Argentine citizen victims of the Holocaust, and their investigation continues.
Many Nazi war criminals and sympathizers also emigrated to Argentina after WWII to escape prosecution, including Josef Mengele, the SS doctor who performed experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Adolf Eichmann, one of the organizing minds behind the Holocaust.
Argentina was one of the few non-European countries to endorse the Terezin Declaration. While Argentina does not have any known immovable or movable property issues dating from the Holocaust era, the Declaration’s section on “The Welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) Survivors and Other Victims of Nazi Persecution” does apply, particularly in terms of social welfare and monetary restitution.
Several Argentine NGOs spearhead work in social welfare and monetary restitution for Holocaust survivors. With the support of Jewish welfare NGO Fundación Tzedaká, several survivors have applied for specific restitution programs from European governments, such as pensions for those who were forced laborers or survived internment in concentration camps or ghettos. Fundación Tzedaká (a Hebrew word that roughly translates as “justice,” “righteousness,” or “charity”) also runs its own initiatives such as medical assistance drives, food security assistance, social events, and educational workshops. Most funding for Holocaust survivor programs comes via the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), based on allocations from several sources, including the German government, Swiss Banks Settlement, and the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. The Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (DAIA), the umbrella organization of Argentina’s Jewish community, is a member of the World Jewish Congress and is affiliated with the Claims Conference, both of which are involved in Holocaust-era settlements. DAIA and the country’s Holocaust Museum concur that in 10 to 15 years, most social welfare and monetary restitution claims will cease, as remaining Holocaust survivors are advanced in age and these programs are not transferable to family members.
The Argentine government and NGOs present a wide array of programs on Holocaust-related archival access and remembrance. Most of their commitments in this area relate to Argentina’s membership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).