While my father was alive my mother refused to ask Germany for anything. When losing her beloved husband suddenly in 1993, and having to strike out on her own once again, she finally relented and agreed to file for her Germany pension. Of course the burden was on me to do the paperwork. And getting the grim details from her. Her memories? Memories is too sweet a word to describe the indescribable. What it took to apply for "Article 2" compensation from them is another story. It was the beginning of a journey for me that became our book, We Never Lost Hope.
After that, and every year from then on they sent the "Life Certificate." We had to find a notary to sign and stamp the paper saying, "Yes, Edith Festinger Litvin is alive, and has survived another year."
Finally last year when the mailman delivered the dreaded paper, my mother was too weak to go to the notary one more time. We didn't send the paper that time, sometime in March, 2011. My mom took her last breath in my arms a month later. As I sat frozen (and still sit in the Shiva house), Germany deposited a last payment directly into her bank account, which I hadn't the emotional strength to close. It was three months later, and there had been no life certificate submitted, no "claim" for that last payment. Now they want the money back and are asking for my understanding.
No, I have no understanding. Not for what they did to my mother and all the rest. Not for the hatred that still exists and permeates every step that every Jew in this word takes watching their backs. It doesn't matter if we are orthodox, conservative, reform. We are all Jews and we all suffer in some way because of that. So if my revenge on the Germans is keeping their $1335.20, which was three months of my mom's "pension," then so be it. I have waited a very long time for some sort of retaliation. It's not much but it is mine.