Polish American Congress
The Voice of a Million Americans of
Polish Heritage in the Garden State
From: PAC WASHINGTON D.C. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2001 1:04 PM
NY JUDGE DISMISSES HOLOCAUST LAWSUITS CLEARS WAY FOR NAZI FORCED LABOR PAYMENTS
(May 10, 2001) Federal Judge Shirley Kram on Thursday cleared the way for making German forced labor compensation payments to aging survivors of Nazi-era labor camps by dismissing consolidated lawsuits against German banks and industry. Today's ruling by Judge Kram reversed the two rulings she made in March this year, when she refused to dismiss the litigation for fear of prejudicing claimants in a separate litigation with Bank Austria AG and Creditanstalt AG. The action was the result of a special hearing called by Attorney Michael Hausfeld, representing German Foundation Board members from the Central and Eastern European countries of Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. He stated that the need for the hearing was because of:
1) the advanced age of the persons who will benefit from the achievement of legal closure;
2) the pending May 15th hearing on the appeal of Judge Kram's failure to dismiss the actions in March, and
3) changed circumstances surrounding the treatment of the Austrian assigned claims, which would have the German Foundation adopt eligibility criteria for payment of Austrian claims from the German Foundation's Property Fund.
Les Kuczynski, National Executive Director of the Polish American Congress, and a member of the IOM (International Organization for Migration) policy-making steering committee in Geneva, hailed the decision: "By granting this motion for dismissal, all material conditions are removed for the German Bundestag to make a finding of 'final legal peace.' We urge the Bundestag to move swiftly so that the German Foundation monies can be authorized for payment. When this occurs, payments to forced labor claimants can proceed without further delay."
Action by the German Bundestag is expected within the next two to three weeks. Thereafter, the German Foundation Curatorium would meet to establish the criteria and the transfer of funds to the seven foundations responsible for administering the compensation program.
Les Kuczynski urged those survivors, living as of February 16, 1999, who have not yet filed their IOM applications, to do so immediately, since the hurdle of legal closure has now been lifted. The Polish American Congress is cooperating with the IOM for Polish claims from the USA and Canada.
For additional information, the PAC offers a toll-free helpline: 1-866-480-1944. Claim forms can be downloaded from the PAC website
Filing deadline is August 11, 2001.