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Restitution to Be Considered for Forced Labor in Nazi Era

January 22, 1986

STUTTGART, West Germany (AP) _ The manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles, Daimler-Benz company, says it will consider paying restitution to people used during the Nazi era as forced laborers.

Spokeswoman Ursula Mertzig had said Monday that based on a study of the history of Daimler-Benz commissioned by the company, there was no ″actual cause″ to make restitution.

However, in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Ms. Mertzig explained that the study by the Stuttgart-based company was continuing into the extent of forced labor during the war.

The laborers were Jews and foreigners brought into Germany to work for the company during the 1933-1945 Nazi era.

She said an independent instutute in Cologne expects to finish the study this fall, and that and Daimler-Benz would then decide whether to make restitution.

When asked about the possibility of making such payments, she said: ″That has not been been excluded.″ However, she added that no claims have been made against the company.

Preliminary findings by the Cologne research institute, the Society for Business History, have confirmed Daimler-Benz’s use of forced labor during the Nazi era. Ms. Mertzig said the intitute’s conclusion is based on research of company records.

Historians say that during the Nazi era, at least 500,000 people were forced to work in armament and gunpowder factories run by German industry.

The issue of whether German companies should make restitution came up after Deutsche Bank, West Germany’s biggest bank, bought the Flick industrial empire in November for $2.04 billion.

One company in the Flick concern, Feldmuehle Nobel, announced Jan. 8 it paid the equivalent of $2 million to a New York group representing Jews forced to work for the company during the war.

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