VW offers pounds 7m to war-time slaves

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The Independent Online
VOLKSWAGEN HAS become the first German company to agree compensation to war-time slaves. Facing lawsuits, the company unveiled a 20m German mark (pounds 7m) fund yesterday, to be run by an independent accounting firm.

The car-maker, set up with the help of Adolf Hitler, bought the labour of about 7,000 foreign slaves from the SS between 1941 and 1945. Their work included assembling mines, V1 rockets and anti-tank launchers. Although it has paid DM25m to humanitarian causes in the countries of the victims, until now it avoided dealing directly with them.

"Although VW is not legally obliged to do so, we believe that we are morally called upon to continue to make our humanitarian contributions," said the company in a statement. The first payments will be made before the end of this year.

But Ed Fagan, a New York lawyer involved in one lawsuit against VW, said the offer of aid to survivors would not be enough to fend off legal action.