Slave and Forced Laborers

Please note: This program is closed.

The Claims Conference Program for Former Slave and Forced Laborers began in 2000, after German government and industry agreed to a DM 10 billion fund to compensate surviving former laborers under the Nazis. The Claims Conference was a major party in the protracted negotiations that led to the agreement.

This program was the most complex ever administered by the Claims Conference, entailing levels of technology, staffing, and international coordination unprecedented in the organization’s previous half-century. The large amount of money distributed, the relatively short application period, and the advanced age of Holocaust survivors all converged to imbue the program with great urgency.

These payments were the culmination of years of effort to compel the governments and businesses of Germany and Switzerland to acknowledge their use of slave and forced labor during World War II, and the benefits they derived from the victims’ labor. The funds came from two sources:

  • German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future”
    This DM 10 billion fund was established in July 2000 after lengthy negotiations among the U.S., German, Israeli and several Eastern European governments as well as the Claims Conference and attorneys. The Claims Conference was responsible for outreach, applications and payments to eligible Jewish survivors and certain heirs in most countries around the world. A significant part of the fund was for non-Jewish slave and forced laborers.
  • Swiss Banks Settlement
    This $1.25 billion settlement was reached in U.S. District Court under Chief Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York. The settlement allowed for payments to Jewish and other former slave and forced laborers, as compensation for Nazi profits that were transacted through Swiss banks. Under the plan of allocation for the settlement, written by Special Master Judah Gribetz and adopted by the Court on November 22, 2000, the Claims Conference was responsible for applications and payments to eligible Jewish survivors and certain heirs around the world. Every survivor receiving German Foundation payments for slave or forced labor from the Claims Conference was also entitled to receive $1,450 from the Swiss Banks Settlement under Slave Labor Class I. There was no separate application.