Jews in Slovakia demand more money from Germany.

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Jews in Slovakia demand more money from Germany.

Post by Thorfinn » 16 Nov 2002 15:52

Slovakia's Surviving Jews Demand Compensation From Germany


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Nov. 12 — Shortly after Hitler's top lieutenants met in Wannsee, on Jan. 20, 1942, to adopt their plan to wipe out Europe's Jews, Germany's ally, the wartime Slovak state, deported about 57,000 Jews to Nazi death camps.

As the Slovaks gathered in assembly areas and detention camps that year, they had no idea that their one-way tickets would be paid for with their own property.

Now, in an effort to close this little-known chapter of the Holocaust, a group representing Slovakia's surviving Jews has asked the German government to return the money.

Germany's government is refusing to pay, arguing that the wartime Slovak state, not Nazi Germany, deported the Jews. Germany also noted that the Jews who died — 287 of the 57,000 returned — had never appointed today's Jewish community to collect the damages.

Jozef Weiss, the executive director of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia, the group pursuing the case, said, "It's absurd, to blame them because Jews from Slovakia did not have time to fill out a last will and testament before they entered the gas chamber." The union took its case to a Berlin regional court. In March, the court rejected the case. An appeal is expected to be heard in January of 2003.

Fero Alexander, the union's president, said, "The Germans were enriched unjustly, the Jews were looted and deported, and from this money they paid for their own death." The cost was 500 reichsmarks per person. The Jews of Slovakia are asking for about $75 million, but Mr. Alexander said he had little hope his community would win. German officials refused to reply to repeated requests for comment on the lawsuit. Last year, when the union lost in court, Maria Heider, the spokeswoman for Germany's Finance Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post that the Slovak Jewish union had no case and that the question of reparations was "no longer relevant."

Slovakia's Jews desperately need the money. The community of 3,000 Jews in this impoverished country receives about $60,000 a year from the central government to finance a retirement home and a kosher community kitchen and to maintain the remaining synagogues and hundreds of cemeteries that served a prewar Jewish population of about 136,000.

Details of the conditions for the deportation of Slovak Jews are laid out in a Slovak-German treaty signed on Sept. 30, 1942, detailing trade agreements for wood, wine, potatoes and honey as well as, in chapter 31, the Jews. Minutes from a Slovak-German meeting on April 29, 1942, just as the deportations began, also spell out the agreement.

"For every Jew of Slovak citizenship who was transferred into the Reich's territory, or will be transferred, the German government will receive an amount of 500 reichsmarks," the agreement notes.

Rainer Arzinger, a German lawyer representing the Slovak Jewish union, said his clients wanted two things: recognition of the historical fact of the deportations and the return of stolen property.

"This is a historical liability," Mr. Arzinger said. "We are simply asking for the return of stolen property which has never been returned."

Letters to Johannes Rau, the German president, and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder were answered with the observation that Germany had met its obligation to Slovakia under various compensation funds. ... 8b&ei=5062

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Post by Wolffen » 19 Nov 2002 22:56


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