August 3, 2006

Court allows Holocaust legal action

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday
overturned a ruling that had stopped Holocaust survivors from
seeking more money from a fund set up by German companies to
compensate victims of forced and slave labor in World War Two.

Law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll said a lower
court had deemed the dispute a political or diplomatic matter
out of reach of U.S. courts, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals now ruled that U.S. legal action could go ahead.

According to the appeals court judgment, Holocaust victims
and their families had been prevented from seeking compensation
for decades after World War Two by various international
agreements and treaties.

But following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new
treaty was signed by Germany, the United States, Britain,
France and the former Soviet Union, which was interpreted by
German courts as ending the bar on legal action.

In response to the early claims, 17 major German
corporations -- including Allianz, Deutsche Bank,
DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen -- established the German
Foundation Industrial Initiative to prepare for more claims.

Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll said Holocaust survivors
believe they have been short-changed by the fund and are
seeking more money.

"The interest monies collected from the German companies
could range to $700 million or more, and will be used to
compensate survivors of medical experimentation, forced and
slave labor and other Nazi wrongdoing," the firm said.

The lawsuit named Allianz, Deutsche Bank, DaimlerChrysler,
Volkswagen, BASF, BMW, Commerzbank, Degussa-Huells, Deutz,
Dresdner Bank, Fried. Krupp Ag Hoesch Krupp, Hoechst, Rag,
Robert Bosch GMBH, Siemens and Veba.