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The BBC's Sanchia Berg
"Judges are unlikely to accept this for now"
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Monday, 13 December, 1999, 12:32 GMT
Germany 'should compensate Blitz victims'

Buckingham Palace The Queen Mother surveys bomb damage at Buckingham Palace

An American lawyer says prisoners of war and even people whose property was damaged by German bombs in World War II should be able entitled to compensation.

Professor Burt Newborn, who represents Jewish slave labour survivors in the United States, believes Germany should pay damages to all those who suffered injury as a result of its actions during the war.

"We are really talking about a general theory of war reparations," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Anyone who suffered injury as a result of the war should be able to go into court and receive some sort of compensation.

There is a failure of justice
Professor Burt Newborn

"If you are asking me 'do I wish we had a system like this', the answer is 'absolutely yes'."

Prof Newborn said even those who were bombed out of their home as a result of enemy action should be able to claim.

That would include thousands of Britons who saw property flattened by German bombers during the Blitz.

"There is a failure of justice," he said.

"Now that Germany is the third largest economy in the world and can afford to deal with the consequences of its past acts, it strikes me that individuals who have been uncompensated should receive some form of compensation."

'Legal manipulation'

However, Holocaust historian David Cesarani warned there was a danger that legal processes were being stretched to the limit in a bid to right the wrongs of the past.

"In many cases Jewish claimants are asking for the law to be bent," he said.

Asking for compensation cases already settled to be re-opened and having banking secrecy laws to be waived were examples of this, he added.

"There is a curious mixture of strict adherence to the letter of the law and the brushing aside of established legal precedence because of an overwhelming moral claim," Mr Cesarani said.

Last week Germany confirmed its "final offer" of DM8bn ($4.2bn) to compensate the estimated 2.3m people forced to work as slaves by the Nazis.

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See also:
08 Dec 99 |  Europe
Germany firm on Nazi slave offer
15 Nov 99 |  Europe
Stakes rise in Nazi compensation row
04 Nov 99 |  Americas
US ponders Nazi slave compensation
07 Oct 99 |  Europe
Nazi slave offer 'disgusting'
07 Aug 99 |  UK
UK compensates Nazi victims

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