Poles to sue over Nazi war slaves

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The Independent Online
A GROUP representing 500,000 Poles forced into slave labour by the Nazis said yesterday that it will sue the German government and some companies if they do not get satisfactory compensation offers soon.

The Association of Poles Injured by the Third Reich wants Germany to declare "as soon as possible" which companies will contribute to a compensation fund being set up in response to United States lawsuits and how much money will be available for Poles, said Karol Gawlowski, the group's deputy leader.

He said the information should be available well before a 13 May deadline for claiming compensation in German courts for damages, so his group can file lawsuits if the offers are lacking.

On Tuesday, 12 of Germany's largest companies pledged to set up a fund to pay reparations to slave labourers, starting on 1 September.

The fund could total as much as $4.6bn (pounds 2.9bn), according to Michael Witti, a German lawyer for former slave workers and their descendants.

Mr Gawlowski said his group wanted Poles to get the same amount of compensation as Americans and Israelis. He said the minimum would be 10,000 German marks (pounds 3,486) for each of the 500,000 surviving slave labourers and Second World War concentration camp inmates.

"If [Germany's] decision is positive, we will accept it, but if Poles are treated worse than other nationals, then we will use other ways, including lawsuits," he said. (AP)