SLAVE/FORCED LABOR CLASS ACTIONS AGAINST GERMAN INDUSTRY

In the late 1990's, numerous lawsuits were instituted throughout the US seeking to recover damages sustained by victims of the Nazi horror of World War II.  Among them were litigations on behalf of Ukrainian survivors of the forcible Nazi deportation of millions of Ukrainians during World War II to Germany and Austria to work as forced/slave laborers in various factories, farms and government enterprises in the Reich.

On August 11, 1999, a class action litigation was instituted in the Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York, against German Industry for their use of slave and forced labor. The lawsuit names several prominent German companies as defendants claiming they participated in and benefited from these war crimes. EVGENY GUMINSKY, et. als.,   Plaintiffs   VS.    Bayerische Motoren Werke AG;   et. als.,  Defendants.

A second suit was instituted in February of 2000, in the Federal District Court, Southern District of New York against Commerzbank of Germany from profiting from slave/forced labor.  Some slave/forced laborers were ostensibly paid very meager salaries (which they never received) but which were paid into “saving accounts” for the forced laborers.  As the war drew to a close, even these “savings accounts” were looted by the banks and never accounted for.  Nadia Matviivna VYDRYGAN, et. als.,  Plaintiffs  VS.   COMMERZBANK, AG, Defendants.

Another litigation (on behalf of not only Ukrainians but all nationalities) was filed in August of 2000 in the Federal District Court, District of Columbia, against Austria and Austrian industry for use of  forced and slave labor on the territory of Austria during world War II.  EUDOKIA KRILL  et. als.,  Plaintiffs, VS.  FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA,  MAGNA INTERNATIONAL INC.    A companion suit seeks recovery against Austria and Geman industry for property losses resulting from asset looting and aryanization.

On July 17, 2000, after sometimes difficult and frustrating eighteen month long negotiations, the representatives of Five Central and East European countries [CEE] (Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine), Israel, Germany and the United States, and German Industry, as well as the legal representatives of former victims of Nazi persecution, finally signed a Settlement Agreement to compensate these victims for their suffering during World War II. The signing took place in a formal ceremony at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin. The Austrian negotiations began in the spring of 2000, and settlement documents for the slave/forced labor portion of the Austrian litigations were signed on October 24, 2000 in Vienna.  Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq. was one of the attorneys in the all above litigations and participated in the negotiations of the German and Austrian Settlements as a plaintiffs’ counsel and as a member of the Ukrainian Government Delegation.




German Settlement Documents Detailed Executive Summary describing the negotiation process

 





Dr.  Thomas  Klestil, President of Austria chats with Myroslaw Smorodsky after the signing of the Austrian Settlement Agreements on October 24th, 2000