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|Sunday, April 16, 2000, updated at 10:27(GMT+8)|
Germany to Raise More Fund for Former Nazi SlavesGermany's chancellor Gerhard Schroeder lately appealed to German businesses to contribute to a ten-billion-Deutschmark fund to compensate Nazi-era slave labourers. He issued the appeal during a parliamentary debate on a law that would provide for the fund.
The German Bundestag heard the first reading of a Nazi slave compensation bill that calls for a ten-billion-Deutschmark fund to compensate former slaves and forced labourers.
Half of the money will have to come from German industry, and half from the government. But, German companies have raised only about half of the five billion marks they need to come up with.
Gerhard Schroeder said:"We are finally giving an answer to a question that has remained unresolved for more than 50 years. It is our responsibility to deal in a practical way with this problem, which German history has passed down to us, and which stems from the darkest chapter in German history.'
The fund is partly intended to resolve pending lawsuits being pressed by former Nazi slaves now living in the United States. Germany agreed to offer them compensation when the US first proposed legislation to ensure that claimants could seek compensation in the US court system.
Historians estimate that more than 12 million people were forced to work for the Nazis, usually without pay. They were used by some of the best known names in German industry, like Volkswagen, Bayer, and Siemens.
More than two million of the former slaves are believed to be still alive.
A final vote on the bill has not been scheduled.
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