The Compensation of Surviving Former Forced Labor Workers in the Third Reich
- East European Winners and Losers -

During the negotiations on the compensation of former forced labor workers in the Third Reich a projection of the number of former forced labor workers surviving the year 1999 was made at the University of Konstanz. This projection comprises former forced labor workers from those countries that participated in the negotiations with the German government. Furthermore, information provided by Foundation Initiatives from Poland, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus on the occasion of talks in Florence in September 1999 was analyzed. The results stated that data from the Czech Republic could be considered as absolutely reliable, whereas data from Poland and the Ukraine revealed significant credibility problems. There was no detailed data on the structure of the group of surviving former forced labor workers provided by Russia and Belarus.

In view of the results of the negotiation process which was concluded recently in Berlin, one can infer that those sides who did not provide accurate data where awarded the largest shares of the compensation sum. For instance, the Polish share of the total sum of DM 8.25 billion appears to be too low in spite of obviously exaggerated data which was provided by the Polish Foundation Initiative. The Czech representatives obviously had the weakest position, despite their very reliable and credible data material.

Also, it is difficult to assess the situation of both former forced labor workers from those countries who were not represented in the negotiations and the group of former slave labor workers around the world. These two groups have to share a sum of DM 800 million. A considerable share of former forced labor workers from the Balkan states was employed on the territory of today's Austria. Hence, they will be compensated by Austria. However, the number of other former slave labor workers (which is not projectable) will render this sum to be insufficient.

Therefore, it is highly questionable whether the compromise obtained last Thursday will live up to its promise when the issue of actual disbursements arises.

Copyright 2000, Dr. Roland Jeske