French orphans of Nazi conscripts sue Germany
Hundreds of French orphans whose fathers died after being conscripted by Nazi Germany during World War II lodged a case against the German government.
STRASBOURG, March 27, 2008- Hundreds of French orphans whose fathers died after being conscripted by Nazi Germany during World War II lodged a case
against the German government Wednesday in the European Court of Human Rights.
"The German state has never taken account of, nor listened to, nor
compensated the orphans for what they lost," the group's lawyer, Arnaud
Friederich, complained after launching the legal challenge.
During World War II, Germany incorporated the eastern French regions of
Alsace and Lorraine into the territory of the Third Reich and from 1942 more
than 130,000 French were forced to fight for the German armed forces.
In 1981, Germany paid 250 million Deutschmarks -- the equivalent of 125
million euros or 196 million dollars -- to an association that undertook to
compensate some 86,500 former conscripts and their widows.
Last year, the German parliament decided that this payment marked the end
of Berlin's responsibility in the matter, a decision which angered descendants
of the estimated 40,000 Frenchmen who died fighting under the German flag.
Friederich said the surviving orphans had given up pursuing their claim
through the German courts after several setbacks and would now seek to defend their rights under the jurisdiction of the European court.