The Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (German acronym EVZ), established following several years of national and international negotiations, was the outcome of an initiative launched by German industry and the German Government.
The Law on the Creation of a Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" was passed on 2 August 2000 with the support of all parliamentary parties in the German Bundestag. The law provided for individual humanitarian payments to be made to former slave and forced labourers and other victims of National Socialism. The disbursement of these payments commenced in 2001 and was completed in 2007.
In his foreword to the concluding report on the payments programmes, German President Horst Köhler declared that the activities of the Foundation had "helped to promote public recognition that this wrongdoing was indeed criminal and that responsibility for it needed to be expressed in tangibly financial terms."
Under National Socialism, around 8.4 million civilian forced labourers from outside Germany and 4.5 million prisoners of war were deployed as slave and forced labourers in concentration camps, work camps, other places of detention, industry, agriculture and public administrations from 1939 until the end of World War II.
The payments were made in cooperation with seven international partner organisations and with the support of the Board of Trustees, comprising 27 members from various nations. A total of EUR 4.4 billion was paid out to more than 1.66 million people in almost 100 countries.
The Foundation’s capital of DM 10.1 billion (EUR 5.2 billion) was made available in equal amounts by the German Industry Foundation Initiative and the German Federal Government. EUR 358 million of the Foundation’s capital was allocated to a grant-giving foundation in order to provide project funding. Around EUR 8 million is generated by the Foundation’s capital each year. The Foundation uses this income primarily to support international programmes and projects in the following activity areas: A critical examination of history, Working for human rights, and Commitment to the victims of National Socialism.