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Class Action Suit Against German Corporations
by Ukrainian Slave Laborers


August 12, 1999
Kyiv, Ukraine
For Immediate Release

The Ukrainian Union of Prisoners/Victims of Nazi Persecution and the Ukrainian Association of the Antifascist Resistance, have authorized the filing of a class action law suit in the Federal Court in New York, Eastern District, against a number of German corporations, which in the years of World War II, forcibly seized hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens and utilized them as forced/slave laborers. (Evgeny Guminsky, et al. v. BMW, Opel, etc., File No. CV 994671). Presently, the number of former forced/slave laborers that are still alive in Ukraine is nearly 300,000.

The law suit describes the utterly immense destruction inflicted on Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the years of German occupation. During their reign of terror, the German fascists burned and completely destroyed 714 cities and towns, as well as over 28 thousand villages, leaving more than 10 million Ukrainian citizens, a quarter of Ukrainian population, homeless. The Germans also destroyed and burned 60,000 industrial establishments, 200,000 commercial buildings, as well as 32,000 educational institutions. According to expert statistics, the monetary value of the total damage to the Ukrainian economy exceeded 285 billion rubles.

In order to satisfy the demand for human labor of the German war machine, the Nazis forcibly seized more than 2.4 million Ukrainian workers, transported them against their will from Ukraine to Germany, and forced them to work as slave laborers under inhuman conditions of the concentration camps and various hard labor camps. The class action complaint describes how one of the Plaintiffs, Evgeny Guminsky, who presently resides in Kiev, Ukraine, was forcibly taken from his native village of Vrublevka, Zhitomer Region, at the age of 17. For three days he traveled in a freight train designed for cattle, without any food or water. He was brought to the city of Gugenau and placed in a hard labor camp called "Rottenfeld". Every morning, he was awakened at 3 a.m. and forced to march for 3-4 kilometers to the designated work location under the escort of the SS guards and ferocious dogs. He was forced to work at the German factory of DAIMLER-BENZ, which produced heavy-duty trucks for the German war machine. His working day lasted for 16 hours. Every mishap brought on a beating by the guards with clubs. There were only two meager meals served to the slave laborers per day: soup made of water and swede in the morning, and a piece of bread at night. There were no days off. Evgeny Guminsky received no pay for his slave labor.

Plaintiff Matrena Rashina, presently living in Kharkov, Ukraine. She was forcibly taken from her native village of Bishkin, Ukraine to Bathausburg, Germany at the age of 16. She was forced into slave labor at the factory of the German corporation BASF, where every single day she had to load heavy white metal strips onto wagons. She received very small portions of food and was severely beaten for every mishap, and sometimes she was beaten for no reason at all.

Plaintiff Raisa Sevastyanova presently resides in Simferopol, Ukraine. She was born in Crimea, Ukraine in1925, into a Jewish family. Her real name is Raisa Goldshlyak. When the War started, her neighbors took her to a small Ukrainian village and obtained for her Russian identification papers in the name of Valentina Rymanova, in order to save her from the Nazis. In 1942, Raisa was forcibly taken by the Nazis and brought to Berlin, and then transferred to Vienna. She was placed as a slave laborer into the factory of a German corporation SIEMENS. The labor camp where Raisa worked was surrounded by a double wall of barbed wire, and was guarded at all times by the SS guards and vicious dogs. She was awakened at 4 a.m. every morning; given a piece of bread with 20 grams of margarine; and then marched to work under military convoy. Every working day lasted for 12 endless hours without any breaks, during which she was standing at all times. Raisa was forced to work even when she was very sick. She received almost no compensation for her labor.

Other plaintiffs worked in similar inhuman conditions: Ivan Shuvalov worked for the German corporation OPEL; Alexander Boyko worked for the German corporation MANN; Nikolay Godun worked for VOLKSWAGEN; Fedor Lirskiy worked for KRUPP.

The complaint further alleges that the Defendant corporations conspired with the Nazi regime to profit from the use of forced/slave labor and since these acts were crimes against humanity, no statute of limitations should apply. The Plaintiffs are seeking compensation from these and other German corporations for the economic, physical and moral damage that they and all other forced/slave laborers of Ukraine were caused to suffer.

The class action law suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by three legal firms:

Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor
Class Action Litigation
Present status of the German settlement
· German Settlement Documents
· International Organization for Migration (IOM) Forced Labor Website IOM Holocaust Victim Assets Programme (Swiss Banks) and German Forced Labour Compensation Programme

· Austrian Settlement Documents
· Austrian Application Notice

· Forced/Slave Labor Homepage
· Brama's UkraiNewstand
· News and Related Forced Labor & Holocaust Assets sites
Press Releases
· Sep 27 02 - US Court Increases Payments Under Swiss Banks Settlement; IOM will increase by 45% the amounts distributed to members of Slave Labour Class I and the Refugee Class [IOM]
· Sep 23 02 - IOM Pays Slave Labourers Under Swiss Banks Settlement: 436 members of certain persecuted groups have received full payment for their claims [IOM]
· Jul 26 02 - Extended Hotline Hours Improve IOM Service for German Forced Labor Claimants [IOM]
· Jun 15 02 - 17,000 slave and forced laborers worldwide have received first payments through IOM [IOM]
· Feb 7 02 - Many Claimants Lack Sufficient Documentation [IOM]
· Feb 1 02 - UECC (Philadelphia) is processing applications for Austrian Compensation
· Jan 30 02 - IOM paid almost 10 percent of presumably eligible claims
· Aug 22 01 - New Filing Deadline For Claims Under Swiss Banks Settlement
· May 10 01 - Judge Kram grants Central and East European countries request for emergency relief
· Mar 13 01 - IOM is ready to make payments but Recent US Court decision may further delay compensation
· Mar 7 01 - Judges decision not to dismiss Holocaust banking cases should not deter forced laborers from filing applications
· Mar 7 01 - U.S. Court Decision on Holocaust-Era Payments
· Jan 17 01 - Ukrainian American lawyer receives Presidential recognition
· Oct 29 00 - Austrian Forced Labor Compensation Agreements Signed
· Oct 29 00 - Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Maidannyk's speech at the signing of the Ukrainian-Austrian agreements
· Oct 18 00 - Update on German and Austrian Forced Labor Class Action Litigation
· Oct 18 00 - , (UkrCP1251)
· Jul 19 00 - Forced/Slave Labor Accord Signed After Lengthy Negotiations
· May 22 00 - Austrian Forced Labor Negotiations Progress Quickly
· Apr 21 00 - Questions regarding applying for forced labor compensation
· Jan 5 00 - Slave/forced Labor Settlement Reached
· Nov 30 99 - German Forced Labor Settlement at a Crossroads
· Oct 10 99 - Germans offer 6 Billion Marks as compensation to WW II victims
· Sept 15 99, Press Release - Appeal to Ukrainian Forced/Slave Laborers
· Aug 15 99, Press Release - Ukrainian Forced/Slave Labor Class Action Litigation
· Aug 12 99, Press Release - Reparations Sought by Ukrainian Slave Laborers
Pyotr S. Rabinovich, Esq.
Pyotr S. Rabinovich PA
475 Fifth Ave.
Suite 602
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-679-5880
Fax: 212-679-7958
Myroslaw Smorodsky. Esq.
Smorodsky & Stawnychy
75 Union Avenue
PO Box 1705
Rutherford, NJ 07070
Tel: 201-939-1999
Fax: 201-507-3970
Danylo Kourdelchouk, Esq.
Oleksandr Storozhuk, Esq.
Ukrainian Bar Association for Foreign Affairs
2-A Zoloti Vorota St.
Kyiv, Ukraine, 252034
Tel: 38-044-246-53-91
Fax: 38-044-229-85-22

Press release issued by:
The President of the Ukrainian Union of Prisoners/Victims of Nazi Persecution, D. Demidov
The President of the Ukrainian Association of the Antifascist Resistance, V. A. Kachanovsky



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