The German Compensation Program for Forced Labor: Practice and Experiences

This publication describes the practical implementation of the German compensation program for Nazi-era forced labor. The program was the result of international negotiations between German companies, the governments of the US, Germany, and Central and Eastern European countries, and victims’ representatives. It was set up in the year 2000 with a 5.2 billion Euro fund and administered by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and seven partner organizations. The program distributed individual compensation payments to 1.66 million beneficiaries in 89 countries.

Written by authors who were directly involved in the implementation of the program, the publication provides an insider’s perspective of the compensation program for forced labor. It examines in detail the different stages of the program, such as deciding on eligibility criteria, setting up organizational structures, outreach, processing and verifying claims, establishing audit and controls processes, as well as the necessary steps to complete such a massive program. By illustrating why and how decisions were taken and how these affected later phases of the program, the authors hope to provide insights, knowledge, and inspiration for those involved in setting up or implementing reparations programs in the future.

Finally, the publication describes the current work of the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future,” illustrating a unique way of combining compensation for past injustice with continuing work for the future.

 



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Preface

Günter Saathoff

 

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Introduction

Friederike Mieth and Günter Saathoff

 

This chapter contains:

  • Historical background to forced labor under the National Socialist regime
  • Germany’s long road to facing the crime of forced labor
  • General description of the German compensation program for forced labor
  • Content and structure of the book

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1 Establishing the Program

Roland Bank

 

This chapter contains:

  • Developments leading to the establishmentof the compensation program
  • Negotiating for a compensation program
  • The Foundation Law
  • Main features of the compensation program

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2 Eligibility

Roland Bank

 

This chapter contains:

  • Defining eligibility criteriaExclusions from eligibility
  • Challenges in the application of the eligibility criteria
  • The role of evidence in determining eligibility criteria
  • Eligibility in case of death of victims of forced Labor

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3 Funding of the Program

Susanne Sehlbach

 

This chapter contains:

  • A fixed fund vs. continuous payments
  • Fundraising for the compensation program
  • Allocating funds for partner organizations
  • Administrative costs
  • Compensation payments in two installments
  • Financial Management

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4 Organizational Structure

Susanne Sehlbach

 

This chapter contains:

  • The “foundation model”: a public-law foundation for compensation payments
  • The EVZ Foundation as the central coordinator of the program
  • The responsibilities and structure of the partner organizations
  • Coordination between the EVZ Foundation and partner organizations

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5 Outreach

Darius Pawlos and Norbert Wühler

 

This chapter contains:

  • Outreach at the start of the program
  • Interaction with claimants
  • Ongoing communication Needs

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6 Claims Processing

Norbert Wühler and Dariusz Pawlos

 

This chapter contains:

  • Different starting points of the partner organizations concerning the claims process
  • Claims processing
  • Decisions on the claims and approval of the EVZ Foundation
  • Processing of legal successor claims Appeals

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7 Claims Payment

Norbert Wühler and Dariusz Pawlos

 

This chapter contains:

  • Payment in two installments
  • The processes of payment of the claims
  • Taxation of compensation payments
  • Payment in different currencies
  • Setting a deadline for the payment process
  • Final accounting and archiving of payment records

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8 Controls and Audit

Uta Gerlant

 

This chapter contains:

  • Establishing control mechanisms
  • Legal supervision
  • Financial audits
  • Controlling the claims processing
  • Reporting obligations

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9 Additional Program Lines

Norbert Wühler

 

This chapter contains:

  • Overview of the additional program lines of the forced labor compensation program
  • Personal injury
  • Property loss
  • Humanitarian and social programs

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10 Legal Closure

Roland Bank

 

This chapter contains:

  • Why was legal closure so important?
  • Measures adopted to ensure legal closure
  • Was legal closure achieved?

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11 Ending the Program

Uta Gerlant

 

This chapter contains:

  • Practical implications of a temporary program
  • Use of leftover funds for humanitarian projects
  • Archiving records of the compensation program
  • Continuing tasks
  • Transferring program-related knowledge

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12 The “Remembrance and Future” Fund

Ralf Possekel

 

This chapter contains:

  • A compensation program as a one-time engagement or long-term mandate
  • Opportunities and risks of managing an endowment fund
  • Operationalization of the EVZ Foundation’s mission statement
  • Overview of funding programs and project examples

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Conclusion

Günter Saathoff and Friederike Mieth

 

This chapter contains:

  • Moral and political aspects of the forced labor compensation program
  • Did the program deliver “a measure of justice”?
  • Impact of the compensation program

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Annexes

Annex 1: The Law on the Creation of a Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (“Foundation Law”)

 

Annex 2: Joint Statement on Occasion of the Final Plenary Meeting Concluding International Talks on the Preparation of the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (“Joint Statement”)

 

Annex 3: Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany concerning the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (“US-German Agreement”)

 

Annex 4: Statutes for the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”

 

Annex 5: Overall Funding for the Compensation Program for Forced Labor

 

Annex 6: Total Payments by Partner Organizations to Beneficiaries

 

Annex 7: Number of Beneficiaries by Country

 

Annex 8: Example of IOM Claim Form and Guidelines for Claimants

 

Annex 9: Excerpt from IOM Document “Evidentiary Guidelines”

 

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Contact

Jacqueline Rux 

Executive Assistant to the board of directors 

Tel +49 (0)30 25 92 97-89