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American Jewish Soldier Sues German Trust for $200,000 in Damages

An American occupation soldier stationed in this city, Pfc. Rudolf Wachsmann, has brought suit in the court of the U.S. High Commission against the IG-Farben chemical trust, asking the equivalent of $200,000 in back pay and damages for slave labor performed and sufferings endured by him during the Nazi era in the notorious Buna-Monowitz synthetic rubber plant.

Solely because he is a Jew, Wachsmann was taken to a concentration camp from his native Oppeln, in Upper Silesia, when he was not quite 14 years old. In 1943 he was transferred to the extermination camp at Oswiecim and assigned to work at Monowitz in a plant constructed there by IG-Farben to reap benefit from the unpaid exploitation of concentration camp labor. He remained at the camp till 1945, then was shipped to Buchenwald and later was liberated by American troops. He immigrated to the United States under the DP Act and was drafted into the Army last year.

Wachsmann’s mother and brother were killed in the gas chambers of Oswiecim. His father was beaten to death before his eyes. He himself suffered beatings and tortures, including hanging by the wrists in mid-air, as well as two skull fractures, two broken ribs, a broken arm, and a broken leg.

His American attorneys, M. Philip Locber and Henry G. Vogel, both of New York but now practicing in Heidelberg, are demanding some $180,000 in damages, interest, costs and attorneys’ fees for permanent impairment of body and mind, and a further $18,000 in back pay.

Because he is a member of the U.S. occupation forces, Wachsmann was able to bring this civil action before a court of the U. S. High Commission. It is not yet certain, however, whether the American court will accept jurisdiction.

Last month Norbert Wollheim, a German Jew now living in New York who was a Monowitz slave laborer at the same time as Wachsmann, but who did not claim irreparable impairment of his mental and physical health, won a $2,500 judgment for back pay and damages in a German lower court. That verdict has been appealed to a German Superior Court by the IG-Farben trust.

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