Nazi slaves and forced labourers get full payouts

Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:41 PM BST

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Some 80,000 non-Jewish slaves and forced labourers under the Nazi regime have received up to 7,700 euros each under a recently-concluded compensation programme, officials said on Friday.

Surviving slave labourers or their heirs got a maximum of 7,669 euros each, while forced labourers in industry were paid 2,556 euros and those who had to work on farms 1,022 euros.

Rounded up in Eastern and Central Europe, they were deported and made to work as slaves in concentration camps or labour for German industry or agriculture during World War Two, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.

"Although the payment is in one sense largely symbolic, it has also made a difference for many, many elderly and in some cases very needy people," IOM's director-general Brunson McKinley told a news briefing.

The successful claimants, traced to some 80 countries, shared total payments worth 405 million euros, according to IOM.

The IOM received 332,000 claims from non-Jewish claimants, mainly ethnic Roma and Sinti from Slavic countries. It is one of seven partner agencies of the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", a four billion Euro fund set up by the government and industry to compensate Hitler's victims.

Hans-Otto Braeutigam, executive chairman of the German Foundation, said the "modest payments" were in recognition of Germany responsibility, but could never atone for the suffering.

"These old, former forced labourers have been waiting for this for more than 50 years. I am sorry to say that it comes very late but I hope it doesn't come too late," he said.
"There can be no full compensation for what these people have gone through...We have a responsibility to see this does not happen again," Braeutigam added.
Another 250,000 claimants, about half of them former Italian soldiers interned by the Nazis after 1942, were rejected as ineligible, according to IOM's Norbert Wuehler, director of IOM's claims programmes.

IOM handled claims from non-Jewish people living worldwide except those in five countries which have set up national compensation programmes -- Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Poland. Jewish claims are handled by a survivors' organisation known as the Jewish Claims Conference.

"The Nazis conducted raids in Eastern Europe where they regarded people as inferior so they used them as a labour pool. Most were from former Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary and the Slovak Republic," Wuehler told Reuters.

The IOM also said it was winding up payments to 15,549 people who proved property losses due to the Nazi regime.

Most of the successful claimants under its global programme live in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia, but others were traced to Israel and the United States, a statement said.

Internet Source

Well, well, well, what can one say? First they made sure that most of the non-Jewish survivors of the forced labor schemes were dead and buried before they actually made an attempt to pay and then all those people get is such a miserly sum. For those not familiar with the Euro this equals about GBP 5,000 or USD 8,500 in the current rate of exchange. I do not care what Hans-Otto Braeutigam, executive chairman of the German Foundation, said in this respect. In my view as a Rom, some of whose relations suffered and died in the camps, this is an insult that is worse than anything so far thrown at people such as Sinti and Roma in respect of their suffering in the Holocaust. Germany as a people must do much better. I rest my case.