Some 240,000 Nazi-era slave laborers would receive
up to DM 15,000 each under an agreement reached in
Berlin on the allocation of the DM 10 billion
German fund to settle World War II claims.
The plan, which must be affirmed by legislation in
the Bundestag, would set aside DM 8.15 billion for
all labor claims. Of that, DM 1.81 billion would be
distributed by the Claims Conference to Jewish
victims, according to the terms reached by German,
Israeli, U.S. and Central and Eastern European
Forced laborers--primarily non-Jewish Eastern
European compulsory workers who were not detained
in Nazi camps--are expected to get DM 5,000 each.
The largest number of these workers are in Poland
The plan was hailed by U.S., German, and Jewish
negotiators, but was assailed by some European
survivors who vowed to pursue their claims for
compensation in European courts.
The German initiative, which is being financed
equally by German industry and the government,
would set aside DM 700 million for the so-called
"future fund," which would be used for unspecified
educational, social, and cultural projects.
Industry had argued that the future fund was a
condition for participation; victims' advocates
said virtually the entire amount should be used for
Advocates for some one million Central and Eastern
European Nazi victims had long insisted that DM 9
billion be set aside for labor claims. That pitted
Jewish against non-Jewish victims, because the
labor claims would have been, in part, at the
expense of property claims.
"The future fund will function as a compulsory tax
on survivors, will take away money that is theirs,
and will act as a whitewash for German industry,
rather than for history and remembrance," British
historian Michael Pinto- Duschinsky said.
The agreement also set aside funds for property
claims, German bank accounts, and war-era insurance
policies. The insurance portion would be handled by
a separate international commission, led by former
U.S. secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger.
There was some confusion about how the German fund
would be reconciled with the $1.25 billion
settlement against the Swiss banks, which also
covers two classes of slave labor. According to
sources, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart
Eizenstat said that DM 100 million will be
transferred from the Swiss settlement to the German
fund. However, the Swiss settlement has not yet
Eizenstat said in Berlin that the German
government's legislation, which legally would
create the foundation, must adhere to the
negotiated agreement for German enterprises to get
the "legal peace" from class-action lawsuits filed
in U.S. federal courts.
The U.S. government cannot dismiss the lawsuits.
But it has said it would side with German industry
and advise American courts that lawsuits should be
dismissed because the German fund would handle all
The Washington law firm representing German
industry previously had said that the agreement
hinges, in part, on such legal protection from the
U.S., Israel, and Central and Eastern European
governments. However, British survivors said that
they would pursue their claims in European