It's Never Too Late to Redress Wrongs, Says IOM on Holocaust Memory Day

Date Publish: 
Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 16:00
Europe and Central Asia

Kindly note that the GFLCP has now been completed and that IOM can no longer accept claims, issue cheques or make new payments to beneficiaries.

The completion of a six-year compensation programme for victims of Nazi persecution has shown that it is never too late to recognize and redress past injustice, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as it marks the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Holocaust Victims tomorrow.

"Recognition and redress of past injustice is an important element of reconciliation and post-crisis reconstruction. We are convinced that with IOM’s German Forced Labour Compensation Programme (GFLCP), some measure of justice has been achieved," said IOM Director General, Brunson McKinley.

The GFLCP, which has now officially closed, paid compensation to over 80,000 former slave and forced labourers, 1,766 victims of medical experiments and other personal injury, and made 15,550 payments related to property loss under the Nazi regime. In addition, the heirs of more than 16,000 deceased slave and forced labourers received awards on their behalf. In accordance with the German Foundation Act, former slave labourers received individual awards of EUR 7,669, forced labourers in industry EUR 2,556 and forced labourers in agriculture EUR 1,022. Legal successors received smaller amounts than survivors.

Taking place 55 years after the end of Second World War, the programme which was implemented on behalf of the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", may have thought to have come too late for some as many victims had already died. For IOM, speed and efficiency were of vital importance in order to avoid new disappointment and frustration among the remaining victims.

"The many thankful emails and letters IOM has received from victims have confirmed that the gesture, for that is really what the financial compensation was, will not be forgotten. It was an important acknowledgement of their suffering," added McKinley. "We hope the programme will be perceived as a model for potential post-conflict reconciliation and reparation schemes." The beneficiaries of the programme, co-funded by the German government and German industry with each contributing EUR 2.56 billion, reside in more than 80 countries across the globe, with large numbers of slave and forced labour victims currently living in Australia, Canada, the former Yugoslavia, Romania and the United States or being Sinti and Roma. The majority of property loss claimants are in the Czech Republic, Poland and Israel. IOM was one of seven partner organizations entrusted with the processing of claims and the payments to eligible victims and legal successors.

Under the programme, IOM also provided humanitarian and social assistance to more than 70,000 needy Sinti and Roma Holocaust survivors in Central and Eastern Europe. These humanitarian and social projects were completed in spring 2006. The final report on the GFLCP will be available by mid 2007.

"The compensation programme and its achievements have deeply marked the organization and its staff," said Norbert Wühler, Director of IOM’s Claims Programmes. "Haunting personal statements that summarized the tremendous agony of people who were persecuted, tormented and traumatized by the Nazis, were a key source for the dedication and never-ending enthusiasm of all staff involved to ensure as many victims were reached as possible."

During the past six years, IOM has developed extensive and unique expertise in the area of claims and reparation services. Based on its experience with GFLCP and similar programmes, the organization is now already providing expert advice, technical assistance and capacity building for such services in a number of other post-war and post-conflict situations.

For additional press and programme information, please contact:

Marie-Agnes Heine, Public Information Officer
IOM Claims Programmes
P.O. Box 71, CH-1211 Geneva
Tel: +41-22-5928220
Fax: +41-22-7986150

Download the Press Release in German