News from and about Ukraine & Ukrainians: Ukrainian Community Press Releases
BRAMA, May 14, 2001, 3pm EDT
|Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor Class Action Litigation
Myroslaw Smorodsky, P.A.
A Partnership of Professional Corporations
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Judge Kram grants Central and East European countries request for emergency relief
Rutherford NJ - On May 9, 2001, the 56th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, Ukraine together with Belarus, the Russian Federation, Poland, and the Czech Republic (collectively CEE) requested an emergency hearing before Judge Shirley Wohl Kram which was heard on May 10, 2001. This motion was filed by the CEE attorneys when it became evident that ongoing legal wrangling by other parties could delay the compensation payments indefinitely. Although the CEE did not have any pending cases before Judge Kram, the CEE and their lawyers developed a unique plan that could satisfy the legal requirements of Judge Kram and break the existing roadblock. This roadblock had prevented the implementation of compensation payments to surviving forced laborers of World War II. On July 17, 2000, Germany and German industry agreed to pay DM 10 billion as compensation to various classes of victims including forced laborers. However, a condition of the settlement was that "legal peace" be achieved and all of the cases pending in US courts against German Industry were to be dismissed before payments could begin. A group of these bank related cases were before Judge Kram in the Southern District of New York. Previously, Judge Kram declined to dismiss these cases on the grounds that certain World War II victims could not receive compensation under the German Settlement Agreement.
The plan proposed by the CEE suggested an imaginative methodology that provided an opportunity for these victims to obtain compensation without any need for renegotiation of the Settlement Agreement and was found to be satisfactory by the Court. Since the motion of the CEE has been successful and Judge Kram dismissed the remaining pending cases, full legal closure has now been achieved and the German parliament could initiate the payment program to victims as early as July of this year. At the conclusion of the hearing, The Central and East European Delegations presented a statement to the Court expressing its gratitude for the Court’s decision. (Statement included below).
The Honorable Shirley Wohl Kram,
Judge, U.S. District Court , S.D.N.Y.
ON BEHALF OF THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN DELEGATIONS
May 10, 2001
Yesterday marked the 56th anniversary of the end of one of the greatest cataclysms known to mankind, World War II came to an end on the European continent. During this savage conflagration, millions of people were eradicated in the Holocaust, millions died in the battlefields and millions of others were forcibly deported to slave and forced labor camps to fuel the Nazi war machine. Today, nearly six decades after "physical" peace was achieved, we are seeking to find "legal" peace. Towards this end, this Court has now removed one of the last hurdles in the process of obtaining some modicum of compensation for those survivors who lost not only their assets, but also their freedom; compensation for those who were deported from their homelands to be slaves for an inhuman war machine. The Central and East European Delegations (Belarus, The Czech Republic, Poland, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine) appreciate and recognize this Court’s continued concern for all the victims of World War II. We also appreciate and recognize this Court’s efforts to help find a modality to give even the un-represented victims their fair chance at receiving compensation. It was understandable that this Court needed to find a balance between just compensation for as many survivors as possible and to achieve this in a timely fashion - while the victims it sought to compensate were still alive. Achieving this goal was no easy task, as is evidenced by the record in the cases before this Honorable Court.
As such, we are pleased that the Central and East European Delegations and their attorneys were able to suggest to this Court a fair and equitable resolution to the Court’s dilemma. We are equally grateful that this Court found our proposals satisfactory in achieving the goals of this Court and justice for all those who suffered during World War II. We regret that rhetoric by others may not have accurately reflected the true aims of this Court. However, after today’s decision, we believe that Germany can swiftly proceed to fund the Foundations’ compensation programs for the many victims that never received any payments in the past. We now look to the German Bundestag to recognize that after 56 years, "legal peace" has now been achieved and to expeditiously initiate compensation payments - especially since hundreds of survivors are dying daily.
On behalf of over 1.5 million Central and East European survivors, we
respectfully thank the Court for today’s decision.
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