Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sovereign Murder (Struggle for reparations for NS-victims in Poland)

Newsletter 2010/01/18 - Sovereign Murder

WARSAW/BERLIN (Own report) - Victims of unpunished German war crimes in Poland are making progress in their struggle for reparations. The lawsuit brought by a survivor, who had been badly burned when his village was liquidated, has been accepted as a case to be decided by Poland's Supreme Court. The 71 year-old is one of a group of victims, who have never received any form of reparations from the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin justifies its rejection of similar claims with the reasoning that Nazi massacres are to be seen as sovereign German acts of warfare, therefore immune to individual claims ("State immunity"). After a court in Italy ruled in late 2008 that states cannot benefit from immunity for their crimes against humanity, the possibility of winning redress in court was also opened in Poland. In Warsaw victims associations, representing "Reichsbahn" (German state railroad in WW II) deportees simultaneously voiced their claims, demanding the creation of an aid fund from the company's heirs. Several hundreds of thousand Poles were taken with the "Reichsbahn" and its subsidiary the "Gedob" (General Direction Ostbahn [Eastern Railroad]) to Nazi camps or slave labor. The legal heir of the "Reichsbahn" is the German government, which is represented in affairs of the railroad by the Ministries of Transportation and of Finance. According to the calculations of the "Train of Commemoration" Association, in the course of the deportations throughout Europe the "Reichsbahn" made receipts of at least 445 million Euros at current exchange rates.


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