Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-----------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-----------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 15:01 GMT
Disputes threaten Nazi slave cash
concentration camp
Millions were forced to work by the Nazis
By Europe Affairs analyst William Horsley

Bitter arguments have broken out at international talks in Washington over the disbursement of a German compensation fund for more than a million survivors of Nazi-era slave labour practices.

Many victims from before and during World War II have had to wait well over 50 years for compensation.

The German Government and leading businesses - including Daimler, Siemens and Deutsche Bank - bowed to strong pressures last December and set up a $5bn fund.

The deal was meant to end all further lawsuits against the firms concerned.

But disagreements involving the German side and lawyers for different groups of victims have put an early settlement at risk.

The current meeting, the third on how to allocate the money, looks like ending without an agreement on how much money will be disbursed and to whom.

Before Wednesday's second and last day of talks in Washington, leaders of the World Jewish Congress said hard-line tactics by the German negotiators stood in the way of an accord.

Different demands

Some survivors are unwilling to give up the right to make future claims.

But the main dispute is among different groups of former slave and forced labourers, who were maltreated and often had to work in fear for their lives for the German war effort.

Survivors from eastern European countries - Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Czech Republic - are demanding that 90% of the fund goes directly to those who suffered.

Many of these claimants are Christians.

Lawyers for Jewish groups want more to go to property claims by victims of the Nazis' so-called Aryanisation programme, which led to the confiscation of many assets.

The US Government, which is sponsoring the talks, insists a fair deal can be worked out within the framework agreed.

While the disputes go on, about 250,000 slave labourers and one million others categorised as former forced labourers must go on waiting.

Most are very old and it is feared many will not live to see the promised compensation for years of misery and degradation.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Europe Contents

Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories