German Court Avoids Deciding on Wwii Slave Workers’ Claims

Germany’s top court would not decide this week whether prisoners in Hitler’s slave labor camps could sue the government for compensation.

The court said the case should be considered by lower courts, but reportedly did not offer any guidelines.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe handed down the ruling in April, though it was first published Tuesday.

The decision follows a case in which 22 plaintiffs, all of them Jewish, filed claims of up to $14,500 each because they were forced by the Nazi SS to work at a munitions factory while interned from 1943 to 1945 at Auschwitz.

Some have said the ruling paves the way for surviving slave laborers to seek compensation in German courts.

But Saul Kagan, executive vice president of the Conference of Material Claims Against Germany, said, “Until the full text of the decision of the German Constitutional Court becomes available and is evaluated, it is not possible to determine whether this decision will be of practical significance for Holocaust survivors.”

About 7 million slave laborers, many of them Jews, worked in Germany during World War II. In the past, individual companies have had to settle with victims of slave labor.

After the verdict, representatives of the victims urged the German Parliament to pass a law that would clearly recognize the slave laborers’ claims.

(JTA staff writer Alissa Kaplan in New York contributed to this report.)

NOTE TO EDITORS: The following updates the Landau analysis appearing in the July 4 JTA Daily Dispatch and should be added after the 15th graf.

One of Sharon’s allies in the Cabinet, Foreign Minister David Levy, threatened Wednesday to resign from the government if Sharon was not made a minister before Netanyahu departs for his U.S. visit next week.

Responding to Levy’s threat, Netanyahu said he hoped that Sharon would soon join the government.

But the prime minister added that it was unacceptable for ministers to demand that Sharon join the government, but refuse to give up part of their ministries for the infrastructure portfolio being created for him.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The following updates and replaces the story appearing in the July 3 JTA Daily Dispatch.

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