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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Berlin
"This agreement is a landmark for the surviving slave labourers"
 real 28k

Rudy Kennedy
"My mother and my sister were gassed immediately"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 14:36 GMT
Nazi slave cash dismissed as 'gesture'

Auschwitz Rudy Kennedy survived the Nazi slave gangs

US and German negotiators have agreed on a 3.3bn ($5.2bn) compensation fund for victims of Nazi slave labour camps but for some it is too little too late.

Former Nazi slave Rudy Kennedy was only 15 when he was taken to Auschwitz.

He watched the Nazis send his mother and sister straight to the gas chambers.

He then saw his father die after less than eight weeks working alongside him in appalling conditions.

Now the German Government has offered him about 4,400 ($7,000) for his ordeal.

I survived, don't ask me how. I wasn't a hero, it was just luck
Rudy Kennedy

Not surprisingly, Mr Kennedy is not impressed by the agreement reached between Germany and the US on a compensation fund worth for him and fellow survivors.

He says the German Government will never succeed in attempts to achieve what he calls "moral closure".

Number of claimants unknown

Mr Kennedy, who came to live in the UK after the war, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is not enough money. If you take the optimistic view we are talking about $7,000 each."

He said the problem was nobody knew how many claimants there were - estimates suggest 2.3 million slaves survived the death camps.

"There are a very large number of people involved, we don't know how many.

Prisoners Prisoners at Auschwitz concentration camp
"We're not just talking about Jewish slave labour but also other people who worked in industry during the war," said Mr Kennedy.

When he describes his harrowing experiences, it is easy to understand why he describes the settlement as nothing but a "gesture".

He recalls: "I was taken as a 15-year-old with my family from (Nazi-occupied) Poland to Auschwitz.

"There was a selection process, most people know about this by now.

Owned by the SS

"My mother and my sister were gassed immediately but my father and myself were allowed to work.

"I was owned by the SS and they hired us out.

"My father managed to stay alive about eight weeks. There was not enough food and the work was very hard.

"I survived, don't ask me how. I wasn't a hero, it was just luck."

A few thousand dollars is scant compensation, Mr Kennedy says.

"It is a gesture. And the German government and industry are asking for closure and they are also asking for moral closure.

"That will never happen."

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See also:
14 Dec 99 |  Europe
$5bn Nazi slave fund agreed
17 Nov 99 |  Europe
New German slave labour compensation offer
08 Dec 99 |  Europe
Germany firm on Nazi slave offer
15 Nov 99 |  Europe
Stakes rise in Nazi compensation row
07 Oct 99 |  Europe
Nazi slave offer 'disgusting'
16 Nov 99 |  UK
Enslaved by the Nazis
18 Aug 99 |  Europe
Ford 'used slave labour' from Auschwitz
04 Nov 99 |  Americas
US ponders Nazi slave compensation

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