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Volkswagen Says It Won’t Pay Reparations to Slave Laborers

The German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen announced Tuesday that it is refusing to pay reparations to former slave laborers who were exploited in its factories during the Nazi era.

A spokesman for Europe’s biggest car manufacturer confirmed that after two years of negotiations with a group of trade union activists and church representatives, the two sides had failed to resolve the issue.

The group negotiating with Volkswagen had proposed creating a $17 million foundation that would make compensation available to former slave laborers and finance educational programs dealing with the ideological heritage of Nazism.

Volkswagen responded that it has no legal commitment to pay reparations and is not in a position to review individual claims expected to be filed.

It also argued that after World War II, the company became, to a large extent, state-owned, and that the state had already done its share in paying reparations to victims of Nazi persecution.

Heinrich Buss, a spokesman for the group that led the negotiations with Volkswagen, said that the group will continue to put pressure on the firm “in order to force them to return to the negotiating table.”

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