Holocaust Survivor Sues Bayer AG
PATRICK L. THIMANGU
Feb. 18, 1999
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ One of the hundreds of twins experimented on by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz is suing Bayer AG, saying the German pharmaceutical giant collaborated with the Nazi scientist.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Terre Haute, alleges Bayer paid Nazi officials for access to people in concentration camps and used the experiments as a form of research and development during World War II.
In recent years, Holocaust survivors and Jewish organizations have sued banks that held on to the assets of Holocaust victims and companies that allegedly profited from Nazi actions through the use of slave labor.
Polish immigrant Eva Moses Kor's lawsuit is thought to be the first to target a German company for Nazi medical experiments.
She contends Bayer tested the effectiveness of its drugs on prisoners injected with disease-causing germs. Her lawsuit says a Bayer physician, identified only as Dr. Koenig, accompanied Mengele on experiments, recorded the results and reported back to Bayer.
Mrs. Kor, who declined to comment Thursday, is seeking unspecified punitive damages and the recovery of profits Bayer allegedly earned as a result of Mengele's research.
For many years, the maker of Bayer aspirin has denied involvement in the experiments and refused to offer compensation, according to the lawsuit.
Bayer spokesman Thomas Reinert in Leverkusen, Germany, said Thursday: ``This is an issue we have to look at carefully.''
Mrs. Kor and her sister, Miriam, survived their 10-month ordeal at Auschwitz and were liberated by Soviet troops in 1945, when they were nearly 10.
Miriam died in 1993 of kidney disease. Her kidneys had never grown to adult size because of her treatment at Auschwitz, according to the lawsuit.
Bayer was founded in 1836 and in the 1920s merged with I.G. Farben, a conglomerate that worked thousands of people to death in Nazi slave camps.
Similar allegations of collaboration in Nazi medical experiments were levied against Farben during the Nuremberg trials but were ``rejected as false,'' the Bayer spokesman said.
In 1953, Farben's assets were divided among Hoechst, BASF, Bayer and other companies, and Farben remains basically as a trust to settle claims and lawsuits from the Nazi era. Reinert said Bayer should not be held responsible for any acts that may have been committed by Farben.
On Tuesday, Bayer was among a dozen German companies that said they would participate in a fund to compensate slave laborers drafted from concentration camps. Some experts estimate the fund at $1.7 billion.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he expects Mrs. Kor's lawsuit to lead to similar cases.
``If companies are paying compensation for slave labor,'' he said, ``why shouldn't they pay for medical experiments?''