Sunday, June 24, 2007

German Women WWII Slaves Seek Recognition

As Holocaust compensation payments reach completion in Germany for both German and non-German wartime slave laborers, over 1000 German women who’d been slave laborers in Siberian labor camps are excluded from German fund set up to compensate Germans imprisoned by Communist authorities for political reasons. Of the roughly 20,000 young German women and girls taken prisoner by the Red Army and forced to do heavy manual labor for over 4 years, fewer than 2000 are estimated to survive. Released into East Germany in 1949, the women were forbidden to discuss their experiences and have been excluded from the fund to compensate former political prisoners because they were never put on trial. Arnold Vaatz, a legislator in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party has, like Merkel, spent years campaigning for the political prisoners, and he's trying to get another bill passed to create a 5-million-euro package for these women, who say they are less concerned about the money than about the recognition and respect they’ve been seeking for almost 60 years.

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