Belgians furious at German tax bills for forced labourers

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Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders vowed Sunday to tackle the German authorities over "morally indefensible" tax demands Berlin has issued to Belgian survivors of Nazi forced labour programmes.

It is shocking, he said, that people who during World War II were forced to work by the Nazis have now received tax demands from the authorities related to the compensation eventually paid for that work, the Belga agency reported.

Several dozen former victims of the forced labour regime imposed by the Nazis during their occupation of Belgium have complained of receiving the letters, according to reports in Belgium's newspapers this weekend.

They had expressed their astonishment at having received from the German tax authorities letters retroactively claiming tax on pensions paid out since 2005 -- sometimes for several hundred euros.

The German government had not confirmed the demands Sunday.

Thousands of Belgians were among the 13 million people conscripted into the Nazis' forced labour programme. It was only in recent years that Germany finally compensated them.

Reynders said that this new problem with the pensions paid to former forced labourers had come about because of a new German law on taxing pensions paid to people living abroad.

He said he had contacted his German opposite number Wolfgang Schaeuble on October 20 about the general implications of the law, but had yet to get much of a response.

With the most recent revelations on its effect on former forced labourers, he said he would raise the issue again on Monday to try to find a solution -- and if necessary at a November 30 meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels.

Germany's EVZ Foundation set up in 2000 to handle compensation payments for surviving victims of the programme wound up in 2007. It had paid out 4.4 billion euros (5.9 billion dollars) to 1.66 million people in nearly 100 countries.

© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Johan posted:

    on 21st November 2011, 12:50:08 - Reply

    Serbia is one happy country because it has a lot of 'fresh' young Nazis in its politics, media, sport, etcetera.On the other side, for decades their citizens were taught to take for granted everything that TV and radio had to say. The same principle is still in work. For example, all media broadcasters recently started persuading the general population to participate to the next elections (planned for Spring 2012) and suggested to the people to vote for Radicals (both for those party compatriots who belong to the party of the Hague ICTY's fugitive Vojislav Seselj, and/or for those who belong to so called EU-oriented party of Tomislav Nikolic, ex-minister in Milosevic crime regime.) And you know what, here it is very well known that all the Radicals have been put on the political scene, thankfully to Serbian infamous secret services BIA and VBA, long time ago. In addition, during the war time in the nineties, the role of Seselj and Nikolic was to recruit new young Nazis from the large pool of uneducated and unemployed kids. What is funny is that the EU commissioners recently started to meet with Mr Nikolic and somehow got persuaded by him that he is really an EU-oriented person. But it is not true and his only role is to become an 'insider' within the EU entities and to help the secret services to continue making bad things against the Union. The bad things include drug trafficking, smuggling illegal migrants from Africa and Asia into the EU, and so on. So, please stop supporting all radicals and similar right-wing politicians in Serbia. Otherwise, you in EU are going to experience such a nice way of living with the little help of Nazi friends from Serbia.