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Ruling Clears Way for Nazi Reparations

November 14, 2000|From Reuters

NEW YORK — A U.S. judge Monday dismissed nearly 50 lawsuits filed by Nazi-era slave laborers against Germany and the firms for which they were forced to work, helping to clear the way for a new German Holocaust foundation to pay reparations.

Manfred Gentz, a director of DaimlerChrysler, said in a statement that he looked forward to dismissal of the "handful" of cases still pending before Judge William Bassler of the federal District Court in New Jersey.

"The judge's ruling is in line with commitments we received from the U.S. government on legal peace, and we are pleased that the court recognizes the statement of interest submitted by the government," Gentz said.

Germany and German industries insisted that all pending lawsuits be dropped in return for their promise to pay nearly $5 billion to Nazi-era slaves and people whose property was stolen under Aryanization programs.

In a separate development, New York lawyer Ed Fagan said that by late Monday he would file a new suit on behalf of Hungarian Jews who plan to sue Austria, its national bank and some of its companies for benefiting from Aryanization programs, and in some cases, hanging onto compensation that was owed to Hungarian Jews.

The new lawsuit was expected to further complicate two days of talks that began in Washington on Monday on how Austria plans to make reparations to Holocaust families whose property was stolen.

In today's values, the amount of property--from jewelry to artwork--that was seized by the Nazis totals about $2.5 billion, Fagan said. The lawsuit doubled the amount of damages to $5 billion because the Hungarians believe they were discriminated against, he added.

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