Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Germany Offers $3.3 Billion to WWII Slave Labor Victims

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Germany Offers $3.3 Billion to WWII Slave Labor Victims

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Germany yesterday offered to pay $3.3 billion to former slave laborers and other victims of the Nazi regime, calling the figure "a considerable amount" given the country's budget problems. Survivors said they want more.

"It's an insult," Rudy Kennedy of London, whose mother, sister and father were killed in the Holocaust, said outside the State Department.

"The world will judge the morality of this offer and . . . will condemn it," said Mel Weiss, an attorney for some survivors.

Yesterday's offer came on the closing day of a multinational meeting aimed at working out compensation for an estimated 1 million to 2.4 million people who worked in forced or slave labor camps to the benefit of Adolf Hitler's war machine -- as well as other types of victims of the Nazi period.

It is the first time in months of talks -- aimed partly at ending U.S. lawsuits -- that a compensation figure has been put on the table.

German envoy Otto Lambsdorff, who presented Germany's joint government and industry offer, said a foundation would be set up to administer the funds. About a third of the money is from government and two-thirds from German industry, negotiators said.

Lambsdorff said 20 companies beyond the 16 sued in the U.S. had agreed to contribute to the foundation. He said the foundation would receive claims not only against contributing companies, but against any wartime German company, even if it no longer exists.

Companies that have been sued in the United States on forced labor and related claims include Bayer pharmaceuticals, carmakers DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Co. and chemical conglomerate Hoechst AG. Names of all companies that have pledged contributions have not been publicly released.

Lambsdorff said the total figure of $3.3 billion "is not enough to help all those who feel they suffered. …

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