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
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
The legal basis of the Ukrainian-Austrian relations has just been supplemented by one more agreement. It is the 28th agreement signed in the history of our relations. However, it has a special meaning, because it addresses the basic needs of the people. Its social importance and human dimension is what makes it special.
On behalf of the Government of Ukraine I would like to congratulate you all with this event. Let me express our profound gratitude to the Federal Government of Austria for the historic decision on voluntary payments to the victims of Nazism. Your good will and humanitarian initiative is much appreciated by the Ukrainians who were sent by the Nazi regime to slave and forced labor.
It is symbolic that we sign these agreements on the International Day of the United Nations. Today we celebrate the 55th anniversary of this organization. And upholding the main principles behind its foundation and contemporary activity, the Republic of Austria and Ukraine are both making a considerable contribution to the cause of reconciliation, peace and cooperation between the nations of Europe by putting our signatures on these documents.
Millions of Ukrainians fought against the Nazis during World War II contributing to our common Victory. More than 43,000 people, who were slave laborers in the war on the territory of the present-day Austria, live now in Ukraine. Almost all of them are now over 70 years old. About one-third of them are disabled, and many suffer from chronic diseases. The death rate of the Nazi victims doubles the same figure for other people of their age.
These were the reasons and crucial motivation for Ukraine to actively participate in the negotiations on fair compensations to the Nazi victims, including with Austria. These talks were intense, constructive and fruitful. I wish to thank all our partners at the negotiation table and to express a special gratitude to Madam Schaumeier. Throughout the talks we always remembered of those who have been awaiting our results. And we have reached a reasonable compromise.
Naturally, the payments that will go to the Nazi victims can not fully make up for the inflicted suffering, physical and moral damage to the people. To many of them this relief will come too late. However, we have accomplished a great and noble mission. There could be no winners or losers. It is a victory of common sense, social justice and humanism, and a triumph of historic truth.
History is the best teacher, but this teacher takes the highest toll for its lessons. Because one who forgets the lessons of history is doomed to repeat one's mistakes.
Let us all remember this and contribute every our effort, so that the gloomy times of the Holocaust and genocide would never come back.
Thank you for your attention.
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