Top: Jewish World Conspiracies: Restitution Issues: WWII Slave Labor Issues
VIENNA, Austria, Dec 16, 1998, By George Jahn, (AP) -- A commission investigating Nazi slave labor in an Austrian factory has found more than 30,000 files containing information about foreign workers forced to work in the plant during World War II, the head of the investigating team said.
The files, including names and other information about the workers, were found recently in a concrete tower on VOEST-Alpine property, the Austria Press Agency quoted Commission chairman Oliver Rathkolb as saying Tuesday. The tower was used as an antiaircraft gun site during the war.
After Nazi Germany absorbed Austria in 1938, the VOEST-Alpine steel and metal conglomerate was renamed after Herman Goering, Hitler's lieutenant. The plant in Linz, about 90 miles west of Vienna, became a major arms producer for Hitler's war machinery.
Millions of Poles, Russians and others considered inferior by the Nazis were forced to work there and in plants elsewhere throughout Hitler's Reich.
Germany has paid more than $60 billion in reparations to Nazi victims, but has refused to honor wage claims by slave laborers, who were technically working for private companies.
Lawyers and historians in the United States and elsewhere are compiling evidence of slave labor in Germany and Austria for possible use in class action suits on behalf of survivors. VOEST and several other Austrian companies have set up independent commissions to look into their companies' wartime histories.
VOEST, along with Steyr-Daimler-Puch and Lenzinger Zellstoffwerke, are the three Austrian companies believed to have used the most slave labor during the war. They are negotiating with New York lawyers who claim to represent former victims, but no details of any settlement have been published.
Separately, an Austrian government commission is examining options for compensating victims of Nazi looting and unjust post-World War II restitution laws, in the face of threatened lawsuits. Money, art and other valuables were looted by the Nazis and by the immediate postwar government.
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