From email@example.com Mon Jan 24 10:14:28 2000
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 18:44:40 -0600 (CST)
From: Michael Eisenscher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: German Union Ups Pressure for Nazi Slave Labor Payments
BERLIN, Jan 23 (Reuters)—Germany's largest union IG Metall stepped up pressure on Sunday on German firms to contribute to a compensation fund for Nazi-era slave labourers by publishing a list of firms that have not pledged money so far.
Instead of paying one or two percent of their turnover to
compensate forced labourers, many firms are denying their complicity
and are scorning victims a second time, the union said in a
tough-worded statement released on Sunday.
Germany agreed last month to pay Nazi-era forced and slave labourers 10 billion marks ($5.15 billion), with half the money coming from industry and rest from the government.
Although some of Germany's best known companies such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE), Volkswagen (VOWG.F) and BMW (BMWG.F) have pledged to contribute to the fund, others have shied away from the claims which date back more than 55 years.
IG Metall said among those who have declined to contribute were chemical firm Dynamit Nobel, which it said had 8,075 slave labourers, and fashion company Hugo Boss, whose founder tailored uniforms for Adolf Hitler's elite guard.
Dynamit Nobel is part of the Metallgesellschaft AG (METG.F) group.
In the opinion of IG Metall's chairman, firms that do not
contribute to the compensation fund should not be free from
compensation claims from former slave labourers, the IG Metall
In return for paying compensation, the U.S. class action suits against German firms will be dropped.
In an interview on Sunday with German SWR radio, the head of Central Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, also criticised German industry for being so slow in coming up with the compensation cash.
Although the American Jewish Committee has previously published a list of German firms which employed slave labourers during World War Two, the IG Metall statement with the names of 139 firms that used slave and forced labour was a first from a German industry group.
German President Johannes Rau and other officials have also called on German industry to contribute so that the fund will reach the level pledged in December.
IG Metall said that 130 firms have pledged a total of two billion marks so far, well short of industry's five billion mark share in the deal.
Some private U.S. attorneys representing victims warned on Friday the deal could yet fall apart if Germany insisted on taking into account compensation already paid for forced labour.
Otto Lambsdorff, the top German negotiator in the talks, said earlier this month that he did not believe the historic pact would unravel over this or other issues.
The next round of negotiations begins on January 31 in Washington.
Germany has already paid $60 billion in compensation since World War Two and hopes that the slave labour agreement will mark the final settlement of accounts with victims of its Nazi past.