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Negotiators Reach Agreement on Dividing Nazi Labor Compensation Money

Aired March 23, 2000 - 2:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Germany today, negotiators agreed how to divide $5 billion awarded to people forced to work for the Nazis during the war.

Here's CNN Berlin bureau chief Chris Burns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BURNS, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Fifty-five years after the Nazis used them as slave laborers in concentration camps, those who survived learned how much they will be compensated. Of the $5 billion agreed on in December, 4 billion of that will go to the former laborers; about $7,500 each for an estimated 240,000 slave labor survivors; about $2,500 for at least 750,000 forced to work in factories or farms.

STUART EISENSTAT, U.S. DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: We've taken a huge step forward today and achieved a consensus agreement on the allocation of the $10 billion D-marks in the German foundation to which all parties have agreed.

BURNS: Most of the remaining $1 billion are for property, bank accounts and insurance policies stolen by the Nazis, and for a foundation for research and education on Nazi labor.

The agreement has to be approved by German lawmakers since half the money is to come from the government. Officials are hoping to get the legislation through the Bundestag by June, in time to begin paying victims before the end of the year.

But officials also say the settlement won't be complete until there's agreement to bar future Nazi-related litigation against German companies, something Berlin is demanding as part of the deal. Officials on both sides insist they're optimistic they can make the final hurdles in the coming months. Survivors say it's about time.

"I have mixed feelings," he said. "On the one hand, I'm not happy it took so long -- 55 years since I was freed from the concentration camp. Two-thirds of the concentration camp survivors are no longer alive."

The clock is ticking for the negotiators and especially for the surviving victims whose numbers dwindle as each year passes. Chris Burns, CNN, Berlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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