German fund compensating Nazi labor victims closes

A German fund set up to compensate victims of the Nazis' forced labor program formally ended payments Monday, it said, after distributing more than US$5.84 billion to 1.67 million victims. The fund - which follows some earlier German compensation programs - was endowed with the equivalent of US$6.7 billion, half coming from the government and the other half from companies that profited from slave labor during the war, among them Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler, Bayer and Deutsche Bank. From the money left over, some US$8 million has been earmarked for a documentation project about slave labor victims, the group said in a statement. Other projects, including humanitarian and medical programs for Nazi victims, will also receive funding, the group said in a statement. Though the fund compensated victims from Kiev to Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, the largest recipient groups were non-Jews in Poland and Ukraine, people exploited in large numbers in Germany's industries during World War II. Unlike Jews, who often were killed immediately in death camps, many non-Jewish victims survived their ordeals.