Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holocaust survivor gets college refund, 70 years on -


By Corinne Heller

JERUSALEM - An Israeli university gave an 85-year-old survivor of the Nazi Holocaust a refund on Tuesday for tuition fees his father paid on his behalf just before the start of World War Two.

Barukh Kaplan, a native of Poland, registered to study chemistry at Jerusalem's Hebrew University in June 1939. But before he could leave for British-ruled Palestine, the Nazis invaded Poland and he fled to the Soviet Union.

"My father, Yaakov Kaplan, passed on to the university tuition (fees) for two years and the university sent me a receipt," Kaplan wrote to the university two months ago. "I had all the documents needed to immigrate, but I did not reach Jerusalem."

Kaplan, who eventually moved to Israel in 1992, sought the refund amid a surge of demands by Holocaust survivors for greater financial assistance from the Israeli government to meet rising health costs and other expenses.

A Hebrew University spokeswoman said the school gave Kaplan a full refund, as a goodwill gesture, of 17,044 shekels ($3,993) for the two years of study required by the current programme, although no record of the nearly 70-year-old payment existed.

Kaplan fought in the Red Army against the Nazis for more than three years until he was wounded in 1945 and had a leg amputated. He studied chemistry at the University of Moscow and became a prominent scientist in the former Soviet Union.

Kaplan, who could not be reached for comment, told Hebrew University he would use the refund to pay for college tuition for one of his four great-granddaughters, a statement issued by the university said.

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