A giant industrial concern agreed yesterday to pay the equivalent of $2 million to Jews who toiled as slave laborers for the Nazis, but a Jewish leader said it was too little.
Feldmuehle Nobel, which was the industrial core of the Duesseldorf-based Flick corporate empire, said it would pay the money to Jews who were forced to work for companies controlled by Flick during Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, The Associated Press reported.
Historians say at least 500,000 worked in arms factories run by Flick, the Krupp steel concern and other industrial giants. The workers often toiled in intolerable conditions, were beaten, fed improperly and contracted grave diseases.
"When they could no longer work, the SS took them away to be gassed," said Robert Kempner, former deputy prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.
The late Friedrich Flick was sentenced to seven years in prison at the Nuremberg trials for using forced labor. But unlike other German industries, the Flick concern made no reparations to former slave laborers.
Feldmuehle said the agreement came after talks with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and with Deutsche Bank, which purchased Flick in November for about $2 billion. Flick is to divide the money among the estimated 1,000 to 2,000 forced laborers still alive, and thousands of survivors of those who died.
Heinz Galinski, leader of the West Berlin Jewish community, said, "This scanty compensation is not a reparation." Jewish leaders had asked for the equivalent of $2.4 million to $3.1 million. Galinski said survivors still have medical problems that began in the factories.