News from and about Ukraine & Ukrainians: Ukrainian Community Press Releases
BRAMA, October 29, 2000, 7:00pm EST
|Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor Class Action Litigation|
Myroslaw Smorodsky, P.A.
A Partnership of Professional Corporations
counsellors at law
75 Union Ave., p.o.box 1705
Rutherford, New Jersey 07070-1705
fax: (201) 507-3970
October 24, 2000
Austrian Forced Labor Compensation Agreements Signed
Vienna, Austria - In an official signing ceremony at the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the governments of the United States, Austria, the CEE (Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine) as well as the lawyer representatives of the slave/forced labor victims signed a series of agreements whereby the slave/forced laborers who were forcibly deported to the territory of Austria by the Nazis during World War II would, after 55 years, receive some modicum of compensation for their suffering. Thereafter, at a separate ceremony at the office of the Federal President of Austria, Dr. Thomas Kestil, Austria's president apologized to the forced/slave labor victims for the suffering that these people endured. He also acknowledged that these victims were never compensated in the past, nor was their suffering properly recognized. Unlike the German settlement, the Austrian negotiations did not require that all claims be immediately settled as part of one settlement package, rather, the signed agreements contemplated the completion of the slave/forced labor component which would immediately be followed by negotiations on the complex property claims with the aim of completing these property negotiations by year's end.
The Austrian settlement documents provide for compensation in amounts similar to that of the German settlement. However, unlike the German settlement, the Austrians' immediately agreed to pay compensation to persons who labored on the farms and private industry in Austria. Slave laborers will receive 105,000 Austrian Shillings (approx. $7,000 US), industrial workers 35,000 Austrian Shillings (approx. $2,333 US) and farm and private enterprise forced laborers, 20,000 Austrian Shillings (approx. $1,333 US). These funds will be distributed in the CEE countries by the existing reconciliation foundations in those countries. There are approximately 43,000 victims still alive in Ukraine. The Austrians themselves will process the applications and distribute the payments to forced/slave labor victims who live in other parts of the world. As soon as the procedures for applications are established, worldwide public notice will be given.
Deputy Foreign Minister Olexander Maidannyk signed the settlement agreement documents on behalf of the government of Ukraine. Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq. signed the settlement as one of the plaintiffs' counsel who has instituted separate class actions against Austria on behalf of all forced and slave laborers within all of the Central Eastern European Countries including Ukrainian victims.
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