'Nazi firms' refuse to pledge payment

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The Independent Online

The leader of Germany's Jewish community yesterday urged more companies to join a planned compensation fund for Nazi-era slave and forced labourers, claiming that most firms who profited from them have not pledged to pay.

Speaking on German radio Paul Spiegel appealed for payments to start soon, noting that most of the victims are old and ill. Even then, he said, the average former slave labourer stands to get only DM3,000(£950) from the planned DM10bn fund that the German government and industry set up last year.

"That is no more than symbolic recognition," said Mr Spiegel, who leads the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

A spokesman for the planned fund said at the weekend that 1,250 companies have joined, but they have raised only about half of the DM5bn German industry has pledged. The government is allocating the other half of the fund.

Mr Spiegel said more than 2,000 other German companies who profited from slave and forced labour during World War Two are "currently not even thinking about joining".Each firm is being asked to contribute 0.1 per cent of its most recent annual sales figure. (AP)