Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 15:48 GMT
UK PoWs seek Nazi compensation
Former prisoners in mainland Europe have been offered compensation
A group representing UK World War II veterans is flying to Bonn to pressure the German Government into compensating British prisoners forced into slave labour by the Nazis.
A delegation representing former British prisoners of war, including Poles and Ukrainians who fought for Britain, is seeking a compensation package in line with that offered to former forced workers from other countries.
Germany increased its offer to Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian slave labourers to nearly £2bn on Monday, but so far has promised nothing for British PoWs forced to work during the 1939-1945 war.
The meeting coincides with a legal case being launched in California on behalf of British Poles against several German companies, including Daimler Chrysler, Bayer, Thyssen Krupp and Hoechst.
The claimants are demanding compensation for the thousands of Poles forced into slave labour who moved to the UK after the war.
Martyn Day, lawyer for the British PoWs and Polish slave labourers, criticised the UK Government for not putting pressure on Germany to compensate the prisoners.
He said: "We have no option, therefore, but to put whatever legal, moral or political pressure we can on the Germans to try to force them to recognise the British claims."
Harold Crooks, a British soldier forced into slave labour in Poland, said: "I have received absolutely nothing from the Germans, despite being forced to work in the Silesian coalmines for 18 months in the war.
"At the end of the war, I was in hospital for many months recovering from what they did to me.
"I am delighted our case is at last being pursued."
Jan Mokrzycki, president of the Federation of Poles in Britain, said: "The Polish community in Britain is very wary that it will not receive any part of the proposed deal (to compensate other former forced workers).
"We are therefore doing all we can to try to ensure the Germans recognise our interests and pay out to Poles living in Britain."