The Forgetfulness of Noblesse: A Critique of the German Foundation Law Compensating Slave and Forced Laborers of the Third Reich
33 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2002
In August 2000, Germany’s twin houses of parliament enacted a law establishing a foundation to compensate survivors of the Nazi forced labor program. The Foundation Law was acclaimed as a victory for Holocaust survivors, despite that it sharply limits compensation amounts, denies recovery to some potential claimants, and purports to preclude further litigation of Holocaust-era claims. Proponents of the Foundation Law defended the choice to use legislation to resolve Holocaust-related claims initially brought in a judicial forum on the grounds that litigation is inherently ill-suited to that task, and justified the terms of the Law by reference to the claimants’ poor chances in the courtroom. In this article, the co-authors identify some troubling assumptions underlying these rationales and highlight the historical and political context in which they were offered.
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