Catholic Church compensates forced labourers
31 August 2005
MAINZ, GERMANY – The Catholic Church in Germany said Wednesday it had paid lump-sum compensation to 594 people who were forced by the Nazis to move to Germany and work on church-owned farms or as domestic servants.
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, chairman of the German Catholic Bishops Conference, said five years of research had identified 4,519 non- German civilians who had been forced to work in church facilities during the 1939-1945 Second World War.
Those who were still alive had been contacted and had each received EUR 2,556.
The church set up the compensation programme in August 2000, appointing its Caritas charity arm to supervise the payouts and to distribute a matching sum to 175 ‘reconciliation’ projects.
Lehmann said the research showed that 80 per cent of the foreigners employed by the church did farm work or domestic service. He said compensation was a gesture of apology and reconciliation towards them.
The Nazis press-ganged millions of Europeans into low-paid work to replace manpower drafted into the armed forces.
German Lutheran churches that used forced labour paid compensation through the state-backed Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future foundation set up in 2000 with funding from German industry, but the Catholic Church decided to mount a separate compensation effort.
Subject: German news