Justice Delayed... Justice Denied

Justice Delayed... Justice Denied

July 14, 2000 - The New York Times

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Fifty-four years after their liberation, hundreds of thousands of former slave and forced laborers for the Nazi war machine still have not been paid.

The time has come to redress this terrible injustice.

The current managers of German industry may bear no personal guilt for what happened then. But it is appropriate that they acknowledge Germany’s debt to the surviving slave laborers.

In the name of justice and humanity, we call on all German companies of goodwill to contribute meaningfully to the central compensation fund for former slave and forced laborers being set up by the German government together with corporate leaders. The German government has appropriately called this a moral, historical, and political responsibility for the whole of German industry.

On Sept. 27, 1999, the American Jewish Committee made direct appeals to 117 German companies, urging them to assume responsibility for this long-delayed effort to compensate slave laborers. The first signals of interest from these firms are encouraging–but insufficient. German firms must make a commitment to the central compensation fund to ensure that adequate funds are available to provide some measure of fair compensation to the survivors of inhumane Nazi labor policies.

The successful establishment of this fund will further demonstrate that democratic Germany honors the obligations of its troubling history.

Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, successive generations have made commendable strides toward reconciliation with Nazi victims, on both a moral and a financial level.

Yet, at the same time, the 12 million laborers, Jews and non-Jews, forced into involuntary servitude during the Nazi regime received little or no compensation. As their numbers continue to decline, the toll of injustice mounts.

We are heartened by progress in the negotiations to create the fund. When the talks resume in Washington this Wednesday, we urge the representatives of German industry to be forthcoming.

Fifty-four years after the crushing defeat of the Nazi regime by Allied forces, Germany has a very bright future–but it is time for German industry to close this tragic chapter.

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